Aug 25, 2013
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Brian Ormiston
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFKnights.com) - The 35th season of UCF football kicks off Thursday, Aug. 29, against Akron at 7 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium. The Knights are entering their 18th year at the FBS level, and the first as a member of the American Athletic Conference.
UCF Game Notes - Akron
Thursday - Orlando, Fla. - 7 p.m.
Akron - 1-11 Overall, 0-8 MAC
UCF - 10-4 Overall, 7-1 C-USA
Bright House Networks Stadium (45,323)
Akron leads, 5-3
740-AM - Orlando
In season openers, UCF carries a 22-12 overall record, and it has won its last seven.
The Aug. 29 opener ties for the earliest start to a season in school history. The Knights defeated William & Mary on Thursday, Aug. 29, 1996, which was their first game as an FBS member.
This will be the fifth time the Black and Gold begins a season on a Thursday (1995, 1996, 2005, 2012), and the ninth time since the program's inception in 1979 that it opens a new campaign on a day other than a Saturday.
UCF has a 5-3 record in the month of August.
For the second straight season, UCF and Akron are kicking off a new campaign on a Thursday evening. Last year, the Knights took down the Zips in Ohio, 56-14.
In his first college start, Blake Bortles went 13-of-16 for 168 yards and three touchdowns at UA.
The 2012 meeting was the first since 2004 when the two programs were members of the MAC.
Akron carries a 5-3 overall lead in the series, and was 2-1 vs. UCF in MAC action.
In its first year under head coach Terry Bowden, Akron finished with a 1-11 record, falling by 12 points or less in its final three contests.
The Zips have seven starters returning on both offense and defense, however the only quarterback on the roster with game experience is sophomore Kyle Pohl, who went 38-for-58 as a backup in 2012.
Junior running back Jawon Chisholm amassed 953 rushing yards and five touchdowns a year ago.
On defense, Akron lost two starting linebackers as well as last season's leading sack artist, J.D. Griggs (six).
ENTERTAINING 2013 SCHEDULE
UCF is one of 19 schools which does not play an FCS opponent or a school from another level.
It has not played a FCS school since Sept. 3, 2011 (Charleston Southern). UCF is one of 11 teams in the nation without a FCS school on both its 2012 and 2013 schedules.
The Knights also are scheduled to play all FBS schools in its 2014 non-conference slate (Penn State, FIU, Missouri and BYU).
TAKING ON AKRON
This is the first time since 1990-91 that UCF starts a new season against the same opponent in back-to-back years.
Entering his second season as head coach at Akron, Terry Bowden fell to the Knights in 1990 when he was with Samford, but topped UCF in 1991 and 1992. Bowden then traveled to Auburn where he led the Tigers to wins over UCF in 1997 and 1998.
The Knights are the only program in the country with three sets of twins on the roster.
Senior offensive linemen Jordan and Justin McCray both started all 14 games last year, and were on the Conference USA All-Freshman Team in 2010.
Freshmen defensive backs Shaquem and Shaquill Griffin were members of the 2013 signing class and arrived at UCF from St. Petersburg.
Freshman defensive back Jamonte Jones also was part of this year's signing class, and his brother Damonte joined as a walk-on. They hail from Belleview.
AMERICAN PRESEASON POLL
UCF was picked fourth in the preseason media poll:
American Athletic Conference - Points
1) Louisville (28 first-place votes) - 298
2) Cincinnati (2) - 257
3) Rutgers - 240
4) UCF - 210
5) USF - 155
6) Houston - 134
7) UConn - 131
8) SMU - 118
9) Temple - 60
10) Memphis - 47
Meanwhile, the Knights are receiving votes in the USA Today preseason top 25 poll.
Currently with eight on this year's roster with Jared Greenaway rejoining the Knights last week, UCF has the second-fewest seniors in the country, ranking only behind South Carolina (five).
Fewest number of seniors:
School - Seniors
1) South Carolina - 5
T2) UCF - 8*
T2) Virginia - 8
4) Indiana - 10
T5) UTSA - 11
T5) North Carolina - 11
* - Does not include Jackie Williams who sits out 2013
The Knights have plenty of weapons back from their memorable offensive season of 2012, and they will be looking to improve on their 35.4 scoring average.
Highest scoring average in UCF history:
Season - Points-Games - Scoring Average
1) 1992 - 373-10 - 37.3
2) 1994 - 399-11 - 36.3
3) 2007 - 502-14 - 35.9
4) 1998 - 393-11 - 35.7
5) 2012 - 496-14 - 35.4
Out of all of the teams in the American Athletic Conference, UCF ranked first in scoring average a year ago:
Team - Points-Games - Scoring Average
1) UCF - 496-14 - 35.4
2) Houston - 389-12 - 32.4
3) Cincinnati - 420-13 - 32.3
4) Louisville - 405-13 - 31.2
5) SMU - 397-13 - 30.5
Junior quarterback Blake Bortles capped his first year as a starter ranked fourth in UCF single-season history in completions (251), fifth in yards (3,059) and fifth in touchdowns (25).
With those types of numbers, it was no surprise the Oviedo native would be named to five preseason watch lists:
Blake Bortles' Preseason Watch Lists
-Davey O'Brian Award
-Maxwell Award (Player of the Year)
-Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award
-College Football Performance Awards QB Trophy
Bortles gets 2013 underway with a current streak of 174 straight pass attempts without an interception. That already stands as the school record. His last pick came against Marshall Oct. 27, 2012.
FBS active streaks without throwing an INT:
Player, School - Pass Attempts w/o INT
T1) Blake Bortles, UCF - 174
T1) Brett Smith, Wyoming - 174
3) Jalen Whitlow, Kentucky - 133
4) Joe Southwick, Boise State - 131
The signal-caller also has a streak of eight consecutive games with a touchdown pass. That ranks four games shy of fifth in UCF history (record is 28 by Ryan Schneider from 2001-03).
All five members of the offensive line are no stranger to the territory up front. The only change comes at center where Joey Grant takes over after two seasons on the defensive line.
The offensive line's career starts:
Player - Career Starts on OL - Current Streak
LT Torrian Wilson - 18 - 15
LG Jordan McCray - 15 - 14
C Joey Grant - 0* - --
RG Justin McCray - 19 - 14
RT Chris Martin - 13** - --
* - Started one game at DL in 2012
** - Started two games at TE in 2012
Last year's offensive line helped set up 33 rushing TDs, good for fourth all-time at UCF.
A SELECT CLUB
Senior Jeff Godfrey opened his collegiate career as the starting quarterback from 2010-11, but now enters his second season as one of UCF's top receivers.
Due to his versatility, Godfrey is the only player in school history to have at least 200 career yards passing, rushing and receiving.
Jeff Godfrey's career breakdown:
Season - Rush YDS - Pass YDS - REC YDS
2010 - 566 - 2,159 - 0
2011 - 405 - 1,898 - 0
2012 - 70 - 38 - 429
Totals - 1,041 - 4,095 - 429
Sean Beckton joins Godfrey as the only two players with at least 100 career yards in all three categories.
Northwestern quarterback Kain Colter is the only other active player in the FBS that has more than 400 career yards passing (1,583), rushing (1,691) and receiving (667).
At each level of the defense, UCF has an experienced veteran guiding the Knights:
Player - Career Starts
SS Clayton Geathers - 26
DT E.J. Dunston - 19
CB/FS Brandon Alexander - 17
MLB Terrance Plummer - 13
For the season opener, UCF will likely have one Knight each in the secondary, at linebacker and on the line who will be starting their first-collegiate game.
The only other Knights who have starting experience are outside linebacker Troy Gray (nine), defensive end Thomas Niles (seven), cornerback Jordan Ozerities (two) and defensive end Deion Green (one).
Most career tackles among current UCF Knights:
Player - Career Tackles
SS Clayton Geathers - 186
MLB Terrance Plummer - 125
CB/FS Brandon Alexander - 105
DT E.J. Dunston - 65
OLB Troy Gray - 63
Junior strong safety Clayton Geathers (117) combined with free safety Kemal Ishmael (124) for 241 tackles in 2012. However, Ishmael would be selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL Draft, leaving Geathers as the top returning tackler for 2013.
Geathers fell short of doubling his tackle total from his redshirt freshman season where he had 67 in 2011. That year, he was named to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.
In the last four contests of 2012, Geathers amassed at least 10 tackles in each game. He has started 26 straight outings, but is searching for his first career interception.
Along with juniors Clayton Geathers, Brandon Alexander and Jordan Ozerities in the secondary, there could be a few freshmen in those roles for the Knights as well.
Several true freshmen or redshirt freshmen were battling for two-deep spots among the defensive backs in the preseason, including cornerback D.J. Killings who arrived at UCF in the spring.
MAKING A SWITCH?
Evans High School product Brandon Alexander immediately made an impact as a true freshman, starting five games at cornerback in 2010 and collecting 43 tackles.
Alexander then started 12 games at corner a year ago, but during preseason camp, he moved over to free safety. That position will be a point of emphasis for the Knights due to the loss of NFL Draft pick Kemal Ishmael.
SCARY FROM BOTH SIDES
Members of the scout team as true freshmen in 2011, defensive ends Thomas Niles and Deion Green broke out in a big way in 2012.
Even though they were playing behind seniors Troy Davis and Cam Henderson (who both earned free-agent deals in the NFL), the duo still posted impressive numbers. Niles finished with 30 tackles and 5.0 sacks, while Green had 18 takedowns with 4.0 sacks.
At the end of 2012, Green would be voted on to the Conference USA All-Freshman Team.
Niles and Green combined for a third of UCF's sacks last season (9.0 of 27 total sacks).
Niles' best game came in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl where he mustered six tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks in the win over Ball State.
Conversely, Green's best outing was at Marshall as he netted six tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and 2.0 sacks.
With six games of at least nine tackles in 2012, middle linebacker Terrance Plummer delivered every contest as a sophomore. He amassed 108 tackles last year, a far cry from just 17 tackles in 2011 as a true freshman.
Plummer set a career-high with 15 tackles at Ohio State, and had his first-collegiate interception in the C-USA Championship Game against Tulsa.
Special Teams Notes
BACK FOR MORE
UCF's special teams have excelled every year since 2007, ranking not only in the top half in the nation, but in the top 20 several times in kickoff and punt returns as well as kickoff return defense.
The Knights' rankings since 2007:
Season - Kick Ret. - Punt Ret. - Kick Ret. Def.
2007 - 21st - 27th - 45th
2008 - 7th - 11th - 41st
2009 - 13th - 29th - 10th
2010 - 1st - 12th - 3rd
2011 - 3rd - 60th - 9th
2012 - 12th - 29th - 33rd
As a true freshman, Rannell Hall claimed a spot on the All-Conference USA First Team thanks to averaging 31.0 yards per kickoff return, which was good for fifth in the country.
In 2012, Hall did return 18 kicks, but witnessed Quincy McDuffie have an All-American season with a school-record 34.2 average and three touchdowns.
With McDuffie moving on to a professional career, Hall is aiming to continue his climb up the UCF all-time chart as he ranks seventh with 1,064 career yards.
THE KICKING GAME
After Blake Clingan's four-year career from 2007-10, UCF went to David Bohner in 2011 and Jamie Boyle in 2012. This season, the Knights will have to go with another new punter and redshirt freshman Caleb Houston could get the nod for game one.
The battle for top placekicker was between Shawn Moffitt, Rodrigo Quirarte and Sean Galvin, and all three will continue to get looks during the year.