What you need to know ... UCF
made a night-and-day improvement from the year before helped
immensely by the play of QB Steven Moffett and the arrival of
star back Kevin Smith. Everything is in place for a huge season
with all five starters returning to the line, a deep and
talented backfield, and a good group of quarterbacks led by
Moffett, the team's leader. The only concerns are pass
protection and finding a reliable number two receiver to take
the pressure off Mike Walker.
Passing: Steven Moffett
223-375, 2,925 yds, 22 TD, 9 INT
Rushing: Kevin Smith
249 carries, 1,178 yds, 9 TD
Receiving: Mike Walker
64 catches, 855 yds, 9 TD
Star of the offense: Sophomore RB Kevin Smith
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior WR
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore OT Patrick Brown
Best pro prospect: Senior WR Mike Walker
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Smith, 2) C Cedric
Gagne-Marcoux, 3) QB Steven Moffitt
Strength of the offense: Experience, running back
Weakness of the offense:
Number two receiver, proven pass protection
A big concern last season is a major strength going into
this year with Steven Moffett looking to crank up his game
another notch to become an Conference USA Player of the Year
type of performer. If he can keep his interception total to
under double-digits again and boost the completion percentage up
to around 65%, he'll likely have UCF in contention for the
Conference USA title. Kyle Israel has more than enough time in
the system to step in if needed, but the real excitement is over
JUCO transfer Terry Mayo, who is big, mature, and talented
enough to be a star next year.
The key to the unit: Get Kyle Israel and Terry Mayo
enough meaningful reps to be ready to go at any time while
hoping for a bit more efficiency from Steven Moffett.
Quarterback Rating: 7.5
- Steven Moffett, Sr. - 223-375, 59.5%, 2,925 yds, 22 TD,
9 INT, 96 carries, 93 yds, 2 TD
Moffett turned in a fantastic year after suffering through too
many growing pains in 2004. He's a strong, big passer with
decent mobility and a good command of the offense and the team.
He was consistent with his one multiple interception game coming
in the title loss to Tulsa. It's no coincidence that outside of
the season opening loss to South Carolina, UCF won when he had
his best games. With all his experience and skill he'll be
expected to be an even sharper playmaker.
- Kyle Israel, Jr. - 9-17, 53%, 108 yds, 1 TD, 9
carries, 49 yds, 1 TD
Israel is a quality number two quarterback with plenty of
practice experience and a good knowledge of the offense after
being in the mix over the past few years. He has a good arm and
is a good pocket passer with surprising running ability. His
biggest problem has been an injured leg that knocked him out in
2004 and killed his chances to compete for the starting job last
One of the best JUCO quarterbacks in America, the 6-4, 245-pound
transfer spent the last four year in the Milwaukee Brewer farm
system and now will be an instant challenger to the starting
job. He's big, experienced, poised, and has a huge arm.
This has the potential to be the
league's best backfield if all the parts stay healthy and
complement each other well. Kevin Smith is the young star with
the home run hitting ability and talent to carry the offense by
himself, but he doesn't have to with big, fast Jason Peters and
reliable Dontavius Wilcox to handle around 15 carries a game.
Shane Smith is a good looking young fullback, while Neal Bittong
will be the pounding run blocker.
The key to the unit: Forming a groove with all the
talented runners to keep everyone fresh and effective.
Running Back Rating: 7.5
- Kevin Smith, Soph. -249 carries, 1,178 yds, 4.7 ypc, 9
TD, 8 catches, 44 yds
Smith stepped into the starting role as a freshman and turned
into one of Conference USA's biggest stars cranking out seven
games with 90 yards or more highlighted by a scintillating
202-yard, three touchdown performance against Nevada in the
Hawaii Bowl. He's a tall runner with tremendous quickness and
cutback ability. While he can power the ball if needed, he's
better in space. The key this year will be to get him more
involved in the passing game.
- Fullback Jason Peters, Jr. - 105 carries, 585 yds, 5.57
ypc, 5 TD, 4 catches, 24 yds
More of a big tailback than a bruising fullback, Peters is a
230-pound playmaker with the ball in his hands. He has great
speed with the power to make things happen on his own. He turned
into a major factor over the second half of last season doing a
great job of taking carries and work away from Kevin Smith
providing a fresh set of legs into the rotation.
- Dontavius Wilcox, Sr. - 79 carries, 274 yds, 3.47 ypc,
5 catches, 56 yds, 1 TD
Wilcox was all set to be the starting back going into last year
before Kevin Smith arrived and took over the job. At 215-pounds
he adds more power along with enough quickness and experience to
be a solid number two back.
- Fullback Neal Bittong, Jr.
A pure blocking back, the 265-pound former defensive lineman
will be the bruiser for the ground game used to open up holes.
He might be used occasionally as a receiver, but that's the only
time he'll likely see the ball.
- Fullback Shane Smith, RFr.
The 240-pound Smith will likely be a starter soon if Jason
Peters becomes more of a tailback. Smith is a strong, 240-pound
blocker and power runner tearing off 2,698 yards and 39
touchdown as a high school senior.
If Mike Walker's knee is 100%, then
everything should be fine. He's a great target to revolve the
offense around with the talent to be a 75-catch, 1,100-yard
playmaker if everything else in the offense is working. The X
factor is the second receiver needing Sergiori Joachim, Willie
Thornton and Rocky Ross to make up for the loss production of
Brandon Marshall. Getting tight end Mike Merritt to play like
Darcy Johnson is also a key to the offense.
The key to the unit: Establishing a reliable and
dangerous number two receiver to take the heat off Mike Walker.
Receiver Rating: 5.5
- Mike Walker, Sr. - 64 catches, 855 yds,13.3 ypc, 9 TD
The team's top corner a few years ago spent his full
attention on the offensive side last year finishing as the
team's second leading receiver despite missing the final two
games of the year with a knee injury. He's a big 6-2, 200-pound
target with impressive deep speed and good, consistent hands.
He'll be the number one target with Brandon Marshall gone.
- Rocky Ross, Soph. - 17 catches, 154 yds, 9 ypc
Even though Ross won't make many big plays, he'll be a steady
contributor like he was last year. He's a tough possession
receiver who stepped in when Mike Walker went down for the year
making five catches over the final three games. Now he'll push
for starting time or else should be the team's number three
- Tight end Mike Merritt, Jr. - 2 catches, 20 yds
It'll be up to the 265-pound junior to replace the steady
36-catch production of Darcy Johnson. Mostly a blocker so far,
Merritt will be used more in the passing game as a big target on
short to medium range passing plays.
- Willie Thornton, Soph. - 5 catches, 93 yds, 18.6
ypc, 1 TD
Thornton adds the speed to the mix. While not huge like the
other UCF top targets, he's not tiny at 5-10 and 170 pounds. He
was an all-state high school sprinter who'll be a steadier deep
threat this year battling Sergiori Joachim for a starting spot.
- Brooks Turner, Sr. - 4 catches, 71 yds, 17.75 ypc
A very quick, very good receiver, Turner will see time in the
rotation behind Mike Walker and Rocky Ross while also getting a
few looks as a kick returner. He made three catches for 50 yards
against Southern Miss before missing the second half of the
- Sergiori Joachim, Jr. - 5 catches, 16 yds
It's time for Joachim to step up and become a playmaker. He's
6-5 and 205 pounds with tremendous athleticism, but he hasn't
done much so far with his five career catches spread out over
- Tight end Sinclair Brown, Sr.
The former JUCO transfer will look to be the team's new top
receiving tight end. At 235 pounds he's not nearly as big or as
physical as the 265-pound Mike Merritt, so he'll try to use his
athleticism and route running abilities to get on the field.
The line was awful in pass protection allowing 37 sacks
while having a mediocre year in the running game, but there's hope for
it to jell into a tremendous group with all five starters returning led
by all-star Cedric Gagne-Marcoux at center. Tackles Patrick Brown and
Josh Sitton have to be better at keeping quarterback Steven Moffett
clean, while sophomore L.J. Anderson has to grow into his potential as
an all-star guard. There's even some quality dept to count on to form a
The key to the unit: Be far stronger and far more
consistent protecting the quarterback.
Offensive Line Rating: 6
- OT Patrick Brown, Soph.
Brown had some major consistency issues in pass protection as a true
freshman, but he started every game and has the athleticism to grow into
something special. A bit undersized at 6-5 and 265 pounds, he has good
feet and is great on the move.
- OG Dominic Ignelzi, Jr.
Ignelzi is a solid veteran who can play either tackle or
guard. He started every game as a true freshman guard, was moved to
tackle, and now will push Kyle Smith as a bigger option at left
- C Cedric Gagne-Marcoux, Sr.
A certain Conference USA all-star and a fringe candidate for All-America
honors, Gagne-Marcoux is back for his fourth season as the leader on the
line. He went from being a good starter who had problems with his
consistency to a mistake-free rock and a true anchor up front.
- OG L.J. Anderson, Soph.
Anderson has the look of a star. He had a great freshman season showing
good athleticism and excellent technique for such a young player. He has
the potential to be something special if he can make another jump up in
- OT Josh Sitton, Jr.
The former guard is still trying to work out the kinks at tackle. He's
one of the team's biggest players at 6-3 and 310 pounds, but he has to
be better in pass protection and has to use his experience to grow into
a more dominant blocker.
- T Dan Veenstra, Sr.
Able to play tackle or guard, the 6-4, 300-pound senior is a
valuable and versatile reserve who'll see plenty of time bat both tackle
spots. He started the season off last year at left
tackle before Brown took over in the second game.
- G Kyle Smith, Jr.
Able to play guard or center, the 280-pound junior started every game at
left guard last year and will push for the spot once again. He has steadily
progressed since getting the starting nod as a true freshman.
- G Jeremy DeVane, Fr.
Don't be shocked if he steps into a starting role right away. He's a
pure guard with good size at 6-3 and 290 pounds with more ability than
most of UCF's veterans. It's just a question whether or not he's ready
to handle the workload right away.