2010 UCF Preview – Offense
UCF OT Jah Reid
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - UCF Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What you need to know: The UCF offense took a leap forward in 2009, but will it last now that QB Brett Hodges has finished his cup of coffee in Orlando and RB Brynn Harvey is on the mend? The one-and-done Wake Forest transfer was a clear difference-maker behind center, leaving behind nothing but question marks. Although the time has come for junior Rob Calabrese to maximize all of his potential, he's going to get pushed for the starting job by true freshman Jeffrey Godfrey. Unexpectedly mature for such a young athlete, he also has the quick feet to survive behind a shaky Knight line. Whoever gets the ball will spend plenty of time looking to get it in the hands of RB Jonathan Davis and WR Kamar Aiken, the centerpieces of a gifted group of skill players.
Star of the offense: Senior RT Jah Reid
Passing: Rob Calabrese
25-46, 260 yds, 3 TDs, 0 INTs
Rushing: Brynn Harvey
261 carries, 1,109 yds, 14 TDs
Receiving: A.J. Guyton
44 catches, 572 yds, 1 TD
Player that has to step up and become a star: Junior QB Rob Calabrese
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Quincy McDuffie
Best pro prospect: Reid
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Reid, 2) Senior WR Kamar Aiken, 3) Junior WR A.J. Guyton
Strength of the offense: The skill positions
Weakness of the offense: Sporadic quarterback play, pass protection, red zone scoring
Projected Starter: Brett Hodges was a pleasant surprise in his lone season in Orlando, but now that he's gone, UCF again has a hard-to-fill opening behind center. First in line will be last year's backup, 6-2, 220-pound junior Rob Calabrese , who's brief career has been marked by inconsistency. He had the job last September, but lost it to Hodges and ended up going just 25-of-46 for 260 yards and three touchdowns. He has the strong arm and physical tools to be successful, but needs to become more poised and not allow his emotions to rattle him.
Projected Top Reserves: True freshman Jeffrey Godfrey has already taken part in his first spring and is poised to mount a challenge for the job. Although at 5-11 and 176 pounds, he doesn't fit the prototype for the position, he was wildly successful as a passer and runner in high school, and has just enough maturity and confidence to be in the huddle for the opener.
Lagging behind but providing depth will be 6-3, 234-pound junior L.D. Crow , a transfer from Stanford who sat out last season. He never could quite make his mark in Palo Alto, but has good zip on his passes and a nice feel for the pocket.
Watch Out For .... Godfrey to not go away. He's not your typical rookie, possessing the intangibles of a winner and possibly UCF's version of uber-cool Miami QB Jacory Harris. If Calabrese continues to get rattled in pressure situations, the Knights could kick off a new era at quarterback in 2010.
Strength: Talent mix. The Knights have a good complement of different parts. Calabrese throws a good fastball, Godfrey is multi-dimensional, and Crow brings the experience of a former Pac-10 player. Heck, quarterback-turned-receiver Nico Flores could get in the action out of the Wildcat package.
Weakness: Proven passers. In all likelihood, UCF will either hand the ball to an erratic veteran or a rookie just a few months removed from high school. It's enough to make the coaching staff lobby the NCAA to get another year of eligibility for Hodges.
Outlook: Of course, this will be the most scrutinized and critical position battle of the offseason. UCF simply cannot revert back to 2008, when the passing game ranked 115th and averaged just over 100 yards a game. Out of Calabrese and Godfrey, someone needs to take ownership of the job in the summer and maximize the talent at wide receiver.
Projected Starters: Junior Brynn Harvey really blossomed in 2009, turning his first 1,000-yard season into All-Conference USA honorable mention recognition. However, he suffered a serious knee injury in March, which will sideline him for at least the first month of the season. It's a good thing the Knights got some young kids into the mix last fall.
Enter sophomore Jonathan Davis. Following a solid debut with the Knights, the 5-9, 194-pounder is battling to take over as the starter in the early going and possibly for the entire season. In spot duty a year ago, he rushed 64 times for 310 yards and four touchdowns, flashing the toughness, power, and pad level to bounce off tacklers in the open field. He's capable of turning this opportunity into a chance to become one of Conference USA's young offensive stars.
Now that 6-3, 231-pound sophomore Brendan Kelly has been moved to tailback, the fullback job belongs to 5-11, 230-pound Billy Giovanetti . While strictly a blocking back in the past, he caught a touchdown pass last fall and will be used occasionally on swing passes out of the backfield.
Projected Starters: The program is hopeful that Harvey's injury occurred early enough that he can return at some point this season. If not, a redshirt year will be the option. When healthy, he's a legitimate workhorse and one of the league's best runners. A year after rushing for 519 yards as a true freshman, he handled 261 carries for 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns, adding 14 catches for 83 yards. A physical 6-1, 207-pounder, with good vision, he has a knack for moving the pile, especially near the goal line.
Kelly bears a close watch, particularly since he ended the spring atop the depth chart...at tailback. Obviously, a very different type of runner than Harvey or Davis, he has a north-south bulldozer, who makes the right cuts and has the vision to pop past the first line of defense. He'll also excel in pass protection, which this program sorely needs.
While no threat to win a starting job, junior Ronnie Weaver brings the motor and work ethic of a former walk-on. After getting 102 carries in 2008, his production slipped to 19 touches for 86 yards and a score, as Harvey and Davis grabbed bigger pieces of the pie. Still, he's available in an emergency and one of the program's best special teams performers.
Watch Out For .... Davis. Yeah, Harvey owned the spotlight last year, but don't be shocked if the drop-off in production is non-existent. One of the most heralded recruits to ever choose UCF, he runs extremely hard and bounces off people, which hasn't been lost on a staff that wants more toughness from the position.
Strength: The one-two punch. It wasn't too long ago that UCF wasn't too sure how it'd replace current Detroit Lion Kevin Smith. Today, the Knights boast a returning 1,000-yard rusher if Harvey can get back on the field and a young sophomore talented enough to command more snaps.
Weakness: Big runs. The offensive line certainly shares some of the blame, but the ground game averaged just 3.5 yards a carry in 2009 and failed to produce a run of more than 50 yards. Harvey and Davis are more methodical than the type of backs, who'll jet through the secondary in a flash.
Outlook: While there's legitimate concern here now that Harvey is on the shelf, Davis and Kelly offer cautious optimism. They form a nice complement that could surprise the rest of the league with their complimentary zoom and boom, respectively. No matter what happens with Harvey's recovery, both backs are going to play a lot this fall.
Projected Starters: Whoever gets the call at quarterback can take comfort in a receiving corps that brings back seven of last year's top eight pass-catchers. The cover boy will be senior Kamar Aiken , an all-star with more help from his battery mate. He began putting it all together in 2009, catching 36 passes for 610 yards and nine touchdowns. Big and very strong at 6-2 and 218 pounds, he could follow former Knight Brandon Marshall into the NFL by fine-tuning the little things in his game.
The Knights are giddy about the long-term potential of 5-10, 175-pound sophomore Quincy McDuffie , a contender for the other wide receiver job. One of the fastest members of the squad, he began to catch on late in his first year, finishing with eight catches for 126 yards and a touchdown, while rushing 11 times for 55 yards.
When UCF uses the tight end in jumbo sets, it'll employ 6-6, 262-pound junior Adam Nissley , who started all 13 games last season. More than just an outstanding blocker, he caught 10 passes for 159 yards, showing off soft hands and an ability to pick up yards after the catch.
Projected Top Reserves: Even after leading the team with 44 receptions for 572 yards and a touchdown, 5-11, 194-pound junior A.J. Guyton will have to fight to win a job. It's a testament to the team's depth at the position. He made a successful return from an ACL tear in 2008, failing to lose the speed or agility that made him a former rising star of the unit.
A bigger, more seasoned option than McDuffie off the bench will be 6-2, 198-pound senior Jamar Newsome. A steady veteran of two letters, he's coming off his best season as a Knight, catching 24 balls for 289 yards and three touchdowns.
UCF likes to make use of the H-back, which creates opportunities for reliable senior Ricky Kay . A stout 6-3, 243-pound former walk-on, with a fullback's mentality, he set career-high a year ago, making 15 catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns.
Watch Out For .... more McDuffie. The coaches love his playmaking ability, which is why he's being given every chance to join Aiken in the starting lineup. Somehow, someway, they plan to get the ball in his hands and turn him loose on unsuspecting defenses.
Strength: Veteran depth. While the two-deep has hardly been written in granite, the possibility exists that UCF could have a pair of seasoned upperclassmen on the B team. If McDuffie holds on, Guyton and Newsome will form one of the best backup tandems at wide receiver in Conference USA.
Weakness: Ball security. The Knights are improving, but they still need to get better at hauling in the catchable balls and keeping it off the grass. There's a level of consistency this offense is striving toward that needs to be attained before the opener with South Dakota.
Outlook: If the passing game goes back into neutral, don't blame this group. The Knights have enough size and talent at wide receiver and tight end to win the battles with opposing secondaries. Aiken will play as if his future hangs in the balance, and McDuffie could be the field-stretcher needed to open up the middle of the field.
Projected Starters: Four starters return to an offensive line that was marked by mediocrity all year and one terrible effort versus Rutgers in the bowl game. The cornerstone of the suspect unit will be 6-7, 326-pound RT Jah Reid , a first team all-star in his second full season as a regular. He has an ideal frame to wall off edge rushers and has a shot at the NFL if he builds on last fall's breakout performance.
Over at left tackle, the quarterback's blindside will once again be protected by 6-7, 299-pound junior Nick Pieschel . He earned mixed reviews in his starting debut, learning on the job but also showing his inexperience too often. He has the long arms and full season of action to make strides, but needs to clean up his footwork and do a better job of sealing off edge rushers.
The most glaring opening is at the pivot, where Ian Bustillo needs to be replaced. First dibs goes to 6-3, 290-pound junior Zac Norris , who has yet to see any significant action at this level. He'll take the entire offseason to learn the nuances of the position and practice making his snaps as clean and consistent as possible.
The Knights remain hopeful that 6-2, 316-pound senior Cliff McCray will be granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA, so he can resume his role as the starting left guard. After sitting out all of 2008, he fit in nicely on both sides of the center, and would prevent the team from having to dig even deeper into its already limited depth.
Sophomore Theo Goins is set to become a fixture at right guard following a Conference USA All-Freshman debut in the lineup. At 6-4 and 322 pounds, he possesses outstanding upper body strength and the raw power to simply blow his man off the ball. Once he improves his fundamentals, such as footwork and use of his hands, he has the potential to be dominant on the inside.
Projected Top Reserves: Regardless of the fate of McCray, 6-4, 291-pound sophomore Chad Hounshell will have an important part of the guard rotation. Showing the ability to quickly get to the second level, he lettered in his first year and even earned a start at Texas.
Senior Abre Leggins wound up being a really nice find last season, his first out of Copiah-Lincoln (Miss.) Junior College. The 6-4, 325-pound former Michigan State recruit started the first six games of 2009, and will provide veteran behind Reid and Pieschel at tackle.
Watch Out For .... an attempt to become more physical. Assistant Brent Key plans to challenge his linemen after they were physically tossed around at times last fall, especially against better defenses. It all begins in the weight room, which has been buzzing throughout the offseason.
Strength: the right side. Reid is a first team all-star at tackle, and Goins will be heading down the same path if he continues to develop. It'll surprise no one if the Knights run the majority of their plays to the right of Norris this fall.
Weakness: Pass protection. An incessant problem in Orlando, UCF was 10th in the league in sacks allowed despite also being 10th in pass attempts. Whipped too frequently by faster defensive linemen, the Knights will halt the development of the passing game if they don't become markedly better.
Outlook: Spotty throughout last season, the offensive line will need to make a quantum leap in order to become an asset to the rest of the attack. While Reid is the one constant in the bunch, the rest of the unit will remain a question mark and a potential liability.
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2010 UCF Defense |
UCF Depth Chart
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