June 23, 2008
ORLANDO, Fla. (www.ucfathletics.com) - The UCF football team will head west on Sept. 27 to play its first Conference USA game of the season at UTEP.
This marks the second game between these conference foes and the first time UTEP has hosted UCF at the Sun Bowl. Last year, the Knights defeated the Miners 36-20 in the final game of the regular season.
The Miners finished last season with a 4-8 record and placed fifth in the C-USA West Division.
The Miners are returning 47 lettermen, including 15 starters. The main question for UTEP this season is how to improve on the defensive side of the ball after being ranked the 117th worst defense in the country.
The Miners allowed an average of 37.1 points and 504.8 yards per game. After replacing three defensive coaches, including the defensive coordinator, the new coaches have installed a new defensive format. UTEP will change from its 4-3 scheme to a 3-3-5.
Despite losing two starting wide receivers, Joe West and Lorne Sam, the Miners' passing attack looks to be in good shape entering the fall. Wideout Tufick Shadrawy solidified a starting role when he had seven receptions, 112 yards and a touchdown during the spring game. A main point of concern on the offensive side of the ball is that starting running back Jason Williams fractured his ankle and will probably miss the entire season while second string running back Terrell Jackson missed the spring game also with an ankle injury.
For the Miners to compete this season for a C-USA Championship, they are going to have to count on an improved defense and their younger, inexperienced players to step up. With little experience, Shadrawy is going to have to fill big shoes as the new starting wide receiver.
The running back core is also filled with young players such as sophomore Sean Clark, freshman Michael Farrar, sophomore Daniel Buckram, freshmen Vernon Frazier and Daniel Palmer.
In last year's game against UTEP, the Knights set the tempo and had possession of the ball for nearly 40 minutes. They grinded out a win with 213 rushing yards on 55 carries. The UCF defense also stepped up and held the Miners to only 28 yards rushing on 19 carries.
Last year, the Knights went 10-4, claimed the Conference USA Championship and participated in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl.
Season tickets for the 2008 UCF football campaign are currently available. To order season tickets, or to learn more abut attending games at Bright House Networks Stadium, call 407-UCF-1000. The Knights are scheduled to play six home contests this year.
For the latest news and information on the Knights, tickets or apparel, log onto www.ucfathletics.com - the official site for UCF varsity sports. Also visit www.ucfphotos.com, the exclusive fan source for UCF action sports pictures.