#63 UCF Football 2015 Preview

UCF Knights

Overall Rank: #63
#3 American

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UCF returns just ten starters to a team that went 9-4 last year and tied atop the AAC standings. With their tough schedule and some key pieces gone, it is easy to write off the Knights. However, Coach George O’Leary has been down this road before and seems to always keep his team competitive.

2014 Record: 9-4, 7-1
2014 Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl vs. North Carolina State (L 27-34)
Coach: George O’Leary (81-60 at UCF, 133-93 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Brent Key
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Bresnahan

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Will Stanback, RB, 697 yards
Passing: Justin Holman, QB, 2,952 yards
Receiving: Jordan Akins, WR, 135 yards
Tackles: Thomas Niles, DE, 49
Sacks: Thomas Niles, DE, 7.5
Interceptions: D.J. Killings, CB, 2

Other Key Returnees: RB Dontravious Wilson, DE Miles Pace

Key Losses: WR Breshad Perriman, WR Josh Reese, WR Rannell Hall, OL Torrian Wilson, K Shawn Moffitt, LB Terrance Plummer, DB Clayton Geathers, DB Brandon Alexander, DB Jordan Ozerities, DL Jaryl Mamea, LB Troy Gray, DB Jacoby Glenn

The defense will look different after being decimated by graduation at linebacker and in the secondary, yet the rush defense should again be among the best in the country. UCF ranked sixth in the nation allowing just 104.3 yards per game on the ground. End Thomas Niles paces the conference’s top pass rush. Last year he tallied 7.5 sacks, 13.0 tackles-for-loss and 49 total tackles. End Miles Pace and tackle Demetris Anderson will also step back into starting roles and there is enough experienced depth for the line to dominate the AAC. New playmakers will have to be found at linebacker where only Chequan Burkett returns to a starting role. Errol Clarke is more than ready for a full-time starting job and Dominic Spencer, an experienced senior, is a steady option. The secondary lost all four starters, including corner Jacoby Glenn who left early for the NFL. Cornerback should not be too much of a concern though with Shaquill Griffin and D.J. Killings. Those two have been biding their time.

The offense returns more experience and this could be the year for a breakout from quarterback Justin Holman. Holman had the unenviable job of replacing Blake Bortles last season. After an inconsistent start, he did finish strong and ended up throwing for 2,952 yards and 23 touchdowns. He will need to find some new targets though with the top four receivers gone, including Breshad Perriman, another early NFL entry, who caught 50 passes for 1,044 yards and nine touchdowns. Jordan Akins and Taylor Oldham are the most experienced options, but keep an eye out for redshirt freshman Tre’Quan Smith. If the passing game struggles, UCF will have to rely on running back William Stanback and a very experienced offensive line. Stanback rushed for 697 yards and ten scores in 2014 despite missing a few games with injuries. If healthy, Stanback is a 1,000 yard rusher in 2015.

The Bottom Line:
We know that the UCF offense can be extremely potent. It was just two years ago that Bortles threw for 3,581 yards and Storm Johnson rushed for 1,139 yards. Those types of numbers can happen again this year if everything goes well. The offense should be better and the defense should be worse. With tough non-conference road games against Stanford and South Carolina in the first month of the season, the Knights have little time to adjust to all of their new pieces. Avoiding Memphis and Navy from the AAC West is a good thing, but road games against Temple and Cincinnati could keep this group out of the inaugural conference title game.

Projected Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 128.3 (103rd in nation, 7th in conference)
Passing Offense: 235.3 (58, 5)
Total Offense: 363.6 (99, 6)
Scoring Offense: 28.1 (69, 5)
Rushing Defense: 104.3 (6, 1)
Pass Defense: 194.2 (21, 2)
Total Defense: 298.5 (5, 1)
Scoring Defense: 19.2 (9, 2)
Turnover Margin: -0.08 (66, 7)
Sacks: 2.77 (22, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (70, 7)

Madness 2015 Recruit Rankings:
#153 Tristan Payton


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