#103 UCF Football 2016 Preview

UCF Knights
Overall Rank: #103
#10 American
Absolutely nothing went right for UCF last season. The Knights ended up 0-12 and only twice finished closer than two touchdowns to an opponent. And one of those was FCS member Furman, who the Knights lost to 16 to 15. However, the program as a whole has too much talent to be that bad and they hope new coach Scott Frost can inject some life into the team. Coach Frost was most recently the offensive coordinator at Oregon and that experience should certainly help boost the scoring offense up from 13.9 points per game.
2015 Record: 0-12, 0-8
2015 Bowl: None
Coach: Scott Frost (0-0 at UCF, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Troy Walters
Defensive Coordinator: Erik Chinander
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: C.J. Jones, RB, 339 yards
Passing: Justin Holman, QB, 1,379 yards
Receiving: Tre’Quan Smith, WR, 724 yards
Tackles: Drico Johnson, DB, 64
Sacks: Jamiyus Pittman, DT, 4.5
Interceptions: Shaquill Griffin, DB, 2
Other Key Returnees: RB Maj McGowan, WR Tristan Payton, LB Chequan Burkett, P Caleb Houston
Key Losses: OL Tarik Cook, LB Domenic Spencer, DE Thomas Niles, DT Lance McDowdell
There was not much this team did well last year, but protecting the quarterback was one of them; and that was a very young line that is only going to get better. That line could give quarterback Justin Holman some valuable time in the pocket in the new up-tempo offense. And it is tough to get a grasp on Holman’s performance in 2015. On the year he completed 50.8 percent of his passes for 1,379 yards and seven touchdowns with 14 interceptions. Those are not good numbers by any means, but it was not his fault. He has a nice arm and can make good decisions, although he did not last season. He just needs some help and the new style of play and others growing up around him should do just that. Tre’Quan Smith is back as the top receiver and there are other options too, including a few speedy ones that Coach Frost will want to utilize. The rushing offense may have ranked 126th in the nation, but C.J. Jones showed flashes of potential, rushing for 377 yards on 93 carries
UCF has been a strong defensive team for most of the last decade, but that all went out the window in 2015. The unit ranked 100th in the nation in rush defense, 109th in pass defense, 113th in total defense and 117th in scoring defense. The Knights defense will certainly look different this year with different schemes and ideas being brought in by the new staff, but they still need the players to pull it off. Even on a very young team, there are losses and many of them are in the front seven. Junior Jamiyus Pittman is the key cog in the middle of the line and he will be asked to help usher in the younger players. Seniors Tony Guerard and Monte Taylor could be productive players in the middle as well. But there is a problem at the end spot where Seyvon Lowry is the only experienced returning option. The linebackers may have a lot of work to do to help with the pass rush and the rush defense. Chequan Burkett is the best pass rusher of the bunch. It is tough to see the front seven holding up against decent teams.
The Bottom Line:
The secondary on the other hand, is in decent shape with the return of cornerbacks D.J. Killings and Shaquill Griffin and safeties Drico Johnson and T.J. Mutcherson. The hope is the front seven can hold their own and UCF can turn into an aggressive defense on third down by utilizing their talented secondary. It should work a little, but not enough to take this team from 0-12 to an AAC contender. Yet, six wins is not out of the question if all goes well. Still, getting four or five wins is a step in the right direction and very promising for the future of the program under Coach Frost.
Projected Bowl: None
2015 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 81.3 (126th in nation, 12th in conference)
Passing Offense: 187.2 (102, 10)
Total Offense: 268.4 (127, 12)
Scoring Offense: 13.9 (125, 12)
Rushing Defense: 199.2 (100, 10)
Pass Defense: 264.9 (109, 10)
Total Defense: 464.1 (113, 10)
Scoring Defense: 37.7 (117, 10)
Turnover Margin: -1.67 (126, 12)
Sacks: 1.33 (111, 10)
Sacks Allowed: 1.92 (55, 5)