2011 UCF Preview – Offense
UCF WR Quincy McDuffie
UCF WR Quincy McDuffie
Posted Jun 7, 2011

CollegeFootballNews.com 2011 Preview - UCF Offense

UCF Knights

Preview 2011 - Offense

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What you need to know:  UCF found its long-awaited offensive savior from an unlikely source—a 5-11, 182-pound rookie playing quarterback. The Knights took a chance on diminutive Jeff Godfrey when other wouldn't, handing him the job last September. He responded by lighting a fire under the perpetually stagnant offense, leading the program to unprecedented success with the ball. A born leader, with great wheels, he gave an added dimension to the attack. A year older and wiser, the staff is hoping its Doug Flutie impersonator will be even better. He'll get plenty of help from one of Conference USA's deepest backfields, a group that includes Latavius Murray, last year's leading rusher Ronnie Weaver, and former 1,000-yard runner Brynn Harvey, who's coming back from an ACL tear. Elsewhere, though, UCF has reason to be worried. The passing game, for instance, will be missing last year's top two receivers and best pass blocker, Jah Reid, who was chosen in the third round by the Baltimore Ravens.

Returning Leaders
Passing: Jeff Godfrey
159-238, 2,159 yds, 13 TDs, 8 INTs
Rushing: Ronnie Weaver
186 carries, 890 yds, 11 TDs
Receiving: A.J. Guyton
28 catches, 353 yds, 3 TDs

Star of the offense: Sophomore QB Jeff Godfrey
Player who has to step up and become a star: Junior WR Quincy McDuffie
Unsung star on the rise: Junior G Theo Goins
Best pro prospect: Junior RB Brynn Harvey
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Senior RT Nick Pieschel, 2) Godfrey, 3) Junior RB Latavius Murray
Strength of the offense: Quarterback play, the backs, run blocking, protecting the ball, converting on third downs, red zone conversions
Weakness of the offense: The receivers, popping the big play, pass protection


State of the Unit: Finally. It took a while, but the Knights have a franchise quarterback they can build around for the first time since Daunte Culpepper was spending autumns in Orlando. It was conventional wisdom that sophomore < strong> Jeff Godfrey would be the starter someday at UCF. Someday, however, came earlier than expected. He took over in September and never looked back, going 159-of-238 for 2,159 yards, 13 touchdowns and eight picks. Oh, he also ran for 566 yards and 10 scores, while leading the program to 11 wins and a bowl upset of Georgia. Hardly the prototype at 5-11 and 182 pounds, he's simply makes plays, with the poise of a much older player.

Now that Rob Calabrese is being moved to wide receiver, 6-4, 223-pound redshirt freshman Blake Bortles is poised to become the new backup. A quality recruit from the 2010 class, he has a nice throwing motion and is the better pure pocket passer of the two. Ideally, he'll get reps this fall, but not when the game hangs in the balance.

Watch Out For .... Godfrey to continue his maturation process. Although he took part in spring drills last year, everything was new and the learning curve was steep. In this latest April, he looked like a different player, with a much firmer grasp on the playbook.
Strength: Athleticism. Godfrey is improving as a passer, but his best assets are his feet. He moves with all of the agility and quickness of a third down back. He forces defenses to respect his running ability because when he pulls down the ball and takes off, he'll do more than just pick up a first down.
Weakness: Depth. Hey, Calabrese lacked consistency, but when he was still in the backfield, he did bring starting experience to the quarterback position. While Bortles has substantial upside as a passer, he's in the very early stages of his development and not ready to lead this offense in the event of an injury.
Outlook: For good reason, there's excitement about the quarterback position in Orlando. Godfrey is a sparkplug type player, a winner who's going to make everyone around him a little better. Forget the fact that he lacks NFL size or a rifle for an arm. He's about to become one of the game's more exciting dual-threats and a winner at this level.
Rating: 7

Running Backs

State of the Unit: UCF couldn't be much happier about its situation in the backfield, which features a deep and talented collection of running backs. Injuries forced the staff to dig deeper into the bench, and now that everyone is healthy, the Knights are loaded with viable options. Last season's top four rushers return, which doesn't even include a former 1,000-yard rusher from 2009.

Junior Latavius Murray ended the spring atop the depth chart and has a chance to command a large role in the running game. It's been quite a turnaround for a player who missed the 2009 season with an ACL, yet battled back to rush for 637 yards and 11 touchdowns on only 111 carries. At 6-3 and 225 pounds, he's a physical back who does his best work between the tackles and needs to avoid running so high.

Backs, such as Murray, weren't supposed to get many reps in 2010. The feature role belonged to 6-1, 207-pound junior Brynn Harvey, but a serious knee injury in March sidelined him for the entire season. It was a tough break for a Knight who rushed for 1,109 yards and 14 scores as a sophomore. A tough runner, with excellent, he looked to be recapturing his old form in the spring. UCF can also lean on 6-0, 210-pound senior Ronnie Weaver, a former walk-on who has played a ton of football in Orlando. Selfless and blue-collar, he led the team with 890 yards on 186 carries, going for more than 100 yards four times and scoring 11 touchdowns. Junior Billy Giovanetti is the Knight fullback, a 5-11, 234-pound fire hydrant who opened plenty of holes a year ago.

Watch Out For .... Harvey's return. He had that familiar bounce in his step in March and April, good news for the UCF offense. The Knights showed in 2010 that they can survive without him, but his presence gives a big boost to the depth and overall potential of the running game.
Strength: Depth. Weaver is the leading returning rusher, and yet exited spring No. 3 on the depth chart. That's an indication of the competition taking place in the backfield and the number of quality backs at the disposal of the coaching staff. With enough touches, any one of the top three backs could go for 1,000 yards.
Weakness: Big plays. While the Knights ran for plenty of yards last fall, explosive bursts were uncommon. The team averaged a modest 4.4 yards a carry, and of the 602 carries, just one produced more than a 50-yard gain.
Outlook: George O'Leary's biggest concern is the kind of problem every coach hopes for—keeping multiple talented players satisfied. The Knights could lean on a committee approach, liberally inserting different backs into the lineup in order to keep everyone fresh. The total numbers will again be prolific, even if the depth prevents any single player from reaching 1,000 yards.
Rating: 7


State of the Unit: Three different UCF receivers caught at least 30 passes in 2010, none of whom are still with the program, making the wideouts a tender area. While there are veterans waiting in the wings, they'll have to step up in 2011, and depth is suddenly an issue that'll need to be addressed prior to the opener.

Senior < strong> A.J. Guyton is the veteran of the receiving corps and a favorite to earn one of two starting spots. A 5-11, 198-pounder, with a lot of experience, he caught 28 passes for 353 yards and three touchdowns. Quick and speedy, he's done an excellent job of bouncing back from an ACL tear three years ago.

Though he has less experience, 5-10, 175-pound junior Quincy McDuffie might have the highest ceiling among the wide receivers. A star on the track and on special teams, he has world class speed, but needs to adds more muscle and improve his fundamentals. As a part-timer on offense, he caught 13 passes for 144 yards and two touchdowns in 2010.

A pair of Williams' have a shot at being in the rotation, 5-10, 179-pound senior Khymest Williams and 6-0, 202-pound sophomore Marquee Williams . Khymest has struggled through injuries and inconsistency, catching only five passes for 73 yards last fall. Marquee has enjoyed a solid offseason, improving his hands and doing a better job of using his body.

Tight end is an area where UCF will enjoy experience, welcoming back third-year starter Adam Nissley . Although he'll make the occasional catch, the 6-6, 267-pounder is mostly an in-line blocker and the equivalent of having another guard up front.

Watch Out For .... a Rob Calabrese sighting at wide receiver. The former franchise quarterback has been relocated in an attempt to get him on the field. Athletic and well-sized at 6-2 and 220 pounds, he's a candidate to get reps out of the slot where he can work against linebackers.
Strength: Speed. Above all else, the Knight receivers are fast, with the wheels to get behind a secondary. If the quarterbacks can get the ball in the hands of McDuffie and Guyton, they have the flash and the moves to extend drives and pick up yards after the catch.
Weakness: Size and strength. The UCF wide receivers are small and quick, which is good when they get into space, but concerning when being jammed at the line of scrimmage. On jump balls, the Knights will be prone to getting manhandled and bullied out of the play. In terms of downfield blocking, their value will be limited.
Outlook: UCF lost a lot of talented players to graduation, and will struggle to rebound at wide receiver. Guyton and McDuffie will make an occasional big play or get behind the secondary, but consistency will continue to elude them. The Knights might need to get Nissley, the backs, and possibly the H-backs more involved in order to get the passing game humming.
Rating: 5

Offensive Line

State of the Unit: From a line that played so well last fall, UCF is looking to seamlessly insert a pair of new starters. One, in particular, first team all-star and Baltimore Raven T Jah Reid, leaves an enormous hole that needs to be filled. A massive presence, who excelled in pass protection and run blocking, he had become a fixture on the right side of the line.

With Reid gone, 6-7, 306-pound senior Nick Pieschel is the new anchor of the offensive line. An honorable mention All-Conference USA selection, he's been a starter since midway through his sophomore season. The Knights' right tackle after playing right guard in the past, he's a good athlete, with the long arms and improving footwork to provide reliable support in pass protection.

Covering the quarterback's blindside at left tackle will be 6-5, 294-pound sophomore Chris Martin , who earned three starts in his debut. He's still learning, but has the upper body strength and intensity to hold up at the point of attack. A couple of redshirt freshmen, 6-4, 309-pound Torrian Wilson and 6-8, 343-pound Tony Jacob came out spring as second-teamers.

On the interior, 6-2, 272-pound junior Jordan Rae returns for his second season as the starter. A heady player who gets off the snap quickly, he makes all of the call up front for the Knights. To his left, will be 6-2, 305-pound senior G Cliff McCray, who started seven games in 2010. An example of perseverance, he's battled a series of issues in a career that began six years ago. At right guard is 6-4, 316-pound junior Theo Goins , a powerful run blocker, with 12 career starts and a very positive career trajectory. In what can only be described as a family affair, McCray's younger brothers, twin sophomores Jordan McCray and Justin McCray , are going to get snaps as backups this season.

Watch Out For .... Goins to start making a push for all-conference recognition. Like so many young linemen, he's endured some rough patches, but now has the experience to go along with his raw physical ability to evolve into one of the program's better blockers.
Strength: Run blocking. The UCF line does its best work when it's moving in a north-south direction and allowed to simply bully the other team off the ball. It's a relentless unit that will wear down opponents, especially in the late stages of games. Last year's squad was 26th nationally on the ground, rarely taking contact behind the line.
Weakness: Pass protection. This has been a problem for years in Orlando. Oh, and don't be fooled by last season's statistical improvement. Sure, the Knights were sixth in the league in sacks allowed, but were also 106th nationally in pass attempts. Life after Reid won't make the situation any easier.
Outlook: The Knights will once again feature a lunch pail offensive line that plays to the whistle and does a nice job of creating space for the backs. Now that Pieschel is moving outside, it'll be interesting to see if the unit can do a better job of covering the flanks. The good news is that QB Jeff Godfrey is an escape artist, who'll bail out the blockers from time to time.
Rating: 5.5

- 2011 UCF Preview | 2011 UCF Offense
- 2011 UCF Defense | 2011 UCF Depth Chart
- UCF Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006