John Denton's Knights Insider: Spring Football Preview Offensive Line


GO KNIGHTS Jordan Rae's intelligence was an asset during his first year as UCF's starting center in 2010.
GO KNIGHTS
Jordan Rae's intelligence was an asset during his first year as UCF's starting center in 2010.
GO KNIGHTS

March 16, 2011

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By John Denton
UCFAthletics.com

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Throughout this week, UCF Knights Insider John Denton will be breaking down each position for UCF's nationally ranked football team heading into the start of spring practice on Friday.

After beginning drills this Friday and Saturday, the Knights will practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday for the next four weeks leading up to the April 16 Black and Gold Spring Game at Bright House Networks Stadium. The practices are open to the public and there is no admission.

UCF is coming off its finest season in school history, winning both the Conference USA championship and the AutoZone Liberty Bowl. The Knights were 11-3 and finished the season ranked No. 20 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll and No. 21 in the Associated Press poll.

Here is a look at the offensive line heading into spring drills:

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OFFENSIVE LINE

LT: Chris Martin (6-5, 290, R.Soph.), Torrian Wilson (6-4, 315, R.Fresh.); LG: Cliff McCray (6-2, 315, R.Sr.), Jordan McCray (6-4, 290, Soph.); C: Jordan Rae (6-2, 271, R.Jr.), Perry Meiklejohn (6-3, 292, R.Fresh.); RG: Theo Goins (6-4, 317, R.Jr.), Justin McCray (6-4, 290, Soph.); RT: Nick Pieschel (6-7, 301, R.Sr.), Tony Jacob (6-8, 310, R.Fresh.).

KEY LOSSES: Jah Reid, Abre Leggins, Zac Norris.

RETURNERS STATS: The 2010 UCF offense averaged 32.1 points, 187.6 rush yards, 186.4 pass yards and 374 yards per game. The offense converted 51-percent of the time on third down and 76-percent on fourth-down tries. UCF's offensive line allowed just 20 sacks last season in 14 games.

ANALYSIS: UCF's offensive line made great strides last season, opening running room for Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver, while keeping rushers off of quarterback Jeff Godfrey. Most of that unit is back with the exception of Jah Reid, a two-time All-Conference player, and starting left tackle Abre Leggins.

Nick Pieschel, Cliff McCray and Jordan Rae are back as starters. Pieschel played at right guard last season, but shifts to tackle to replace Reid. McCray is back at left guard and gets another chance to play with twin brothers, Jordan and Justin McCray. All three appeared on the field together once last year and that could happen several times this season.

Rae was one of the biggest surprises on the team last season with the way he made the calls and thrived even as an undersized center last season. A question mark a year ago, Rae is now looked at as one of the team's biggest strengths.

Martin is a former defensive linemen converted to the offensive side of the ball. He has the athletic ability and nastiness UCF wants in its offensive linemen, but he must be more consistent. Goins is big and powerful, but he too must be better day-to-day to hold off Justin McCray.

UCF has some quality depth at offensive line and those promising youngsters could be pushing for starting time this season. Torrian Wilson was one of UCF's prized, four-star recruits from a year ago and could be a potential star at left tackle. Tony Jacob has NFL size and the feet of a basketball player, making him a prototypical tackle with more strength and aggression in the future. And UCF's coaching staff thought so highly of the McCray twins that both played last season rather than redshirting. Both could be in the mix to push for starting roles.

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John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.

 

 

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