2010 UCF Preview
UCF RB Brynn Harvey
UCF RB Brynn Harvey
Posted Jul 11, 2010

UCF might not have the firepower of Houston, but the running game, led by Brynn Harvey, should be solid and the defense will likely be the Conference USA's best once again. Will it be enough to get back over the hump to give head coach George O'Leary another title? Check out the CFN 2010 UCF Preview.

UCF Knights

Preview 2010

- 2010 UCF Preview | 2010 UCF Offense
- 2010 UCF Defense | 2010 UCF Depth Chart
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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: George O'Leary
7th year: 34-41
14th year overall: 86-74
Returning Lettermen
Off. 21, Def. 20, ST 5
Lettermen Lost: 12
Ten Best UCF Players
1. DE Bruce Miller, Sr.
2. RB Brynn Harvey, Jr. (INJ)
3. LB Lawrence Young, Sr.
4. RT Jah Reid, Sr.
5. WR Kamar Aiken, Sr.
6. CB Josh Robinson, Soph.
7. LB Derrick Hallman, Sr.
8. CB Kemal Ishmael, Soph.
9. WR A.J. Guyton, Jr.
10. DE David Williams, Sr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 South Dakota
Sept. 11 NC State
Sept. 18 at Buffalo
Sept. 25 at Kansas State
Oct. 6 UAB
Oct. 13 at Marshall
Oct. 23 Rice
Oct. 30 East Carolina
Nov. 5 at Houston
Nov. 13 Southern Miss
Nov. 20 at Tulane
Nov. 27 at Memphis

It's an even-numbered year. Be afraid, UCF fans. Be very afraid.

Although superstitions have no place in football, it's getting awfully hard to dismiss the Knights' troubling rollercoaster trend from one season to the next. In the last three odd-numbered years, the program went 26-14, with three bowl invites. The last three even-numbered years? Try 8-27. Uh-oh.

Beyond all of the arithmophobia and avoidance of black cats is an underlying problem that simply cannot be ignored; UCF has been painfully inconsistent during George O'Leary's six-year tenure in Orlando. While the talent has been in place to become the class of Conference USA, or at least the East Division, the results haven't followed. After going a respectable 8-5 in 2009, the Knights are determined to break the on-again, off-again cycle that's becomes their personality.

Stringing together back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 2001-02 will require a few things to happen. On offense, UCF must develop a capable quarterback now that Brett Hodges has left, and solidify the play up front. Rob Calabrese is the favorite behind center, though Jeffrey Godfrey didn't leave high school early to hold a clipboard. While the Knights are on more solid footing defensively, they do need to rebuild the middle of the front seven and grow up in the secondary.

UCF has the facilities, talent base, and veteran staff to shed its old personality and make a run at a division that's as up for grabs as it's ever been. The trick is to go out and do it, delivering a winning season in an even-numbered year for the first time since 2002.

What to watch for on offense: The situation at quarterback. Brett Hodges gave the Knights their most consistency at quarterback since Daunte Culpepper was in Orlando. Unfortunately, he used his only year of eligibility. Although it's Rob Calabrese's job to lose, that's exactly what he'll do if he can't turn the corner in his junior year and begin playing with more consistency. Looking to narrow the obvious gap in experience will be true freshman Jeffrey Godfrey, who already too part in spring practice and has uncommon poise and confidence for such a young kid.

What to watch for on defense: Josh Linam. The coaching staff has been raving about his potential and preparation for the past two years, but there were no openings at middle linebacker. That's changed now that Corey Hogue has graduated. With Lawrence Young and Derrick Hallman manning the perimeter, Linam is poised to hit the ground running and pile up a bunch of stops from his spot on the field. He's one of those Conference USA players no one knows today, but could have 100 tackles by December.

The team will be far better if … the passing game doesn't go back in the tank. The Knights simply can't have a repeat of 2008, when the team averaged 16 points and a nation's-low 229 yards a game. The defense will recover from its losses. The running game will be manned by Jonathan Davis until starter Brynn Harvey can recover from a knee injury. Success boils down to a passing attack that has to be accountable, carry some of the weight, and keep defenses from ganging up on the running backs.

The Schedule: The Knights get a huge break facing Rice and Tulane from the West, but it's offset by a road trip to Houston. The bigger breaks are getting East rivals Southern Miss and East Carolina at home, and UCF can't blow it against either one with three of the final four games on the road. The non-conference slate has an interesting mix of battles with NC State coming to Orlando but with road dates at Buffalo and Kansas State to deal with. There's only one conference game on the road before November, and a hot start will be a must.

Best offensive Player: Senior RT Jah Reid. This spot was reserved for RB Brynn Harvey until the junior injured his knee in the spring. Reid is the one mainstay on an otherwise shaky offensive line. A first team all-star in his second season as a starter, he has a chance to parlay his final year into some looks from pro scouts. At 6-7 and 326 pounds, he has perfect size to be a bodyguard in pass protection and the feet to seal off rushers looking to get around the edge.

Best defensive Player: Senior DE Bruce Miller. With Miller, you know exactly what you're going to get, 60 minutes of intensity and energy, with the singular goal of getting into the backfield. Basically overlooked coming out of high school, he's blossomed into one of the nation's premier pass rushers, bagging 27 career sacks and being named the 2009 Conference USA Defensive Player of the Year. In Orlando, even Donald and Mickey don't work as hard as Miller does.

Key player to a successful season: Junior QB Rob Calabrese. It's an obvious choice, but also the most logical one. If the Knights are going to contend for a league crown, they'll need a quarterback who can employ all of the skills of talented receivers Kamar Aiken, Quincy McDuffie, and A.J. Guyton. If the offense becomes overly predictable, it's going to place too much pressure on a defense that might not be as stingy as it was a year ago.

The season will be a success if ... UCF returns to the postseason. While history says it won't happen, it's up to the Knights to rewrite recent history. And with a schedule that features just four schools that bowled a year ago, anything less than seven wins and an invite will be classified as a disappointment. Heck, if the quarterbacks come through, there's no reason UCF can't win the East Division for the third time in the last six years.

Key game: Oct. 30 vs. East Carolina. Yeah, the Pirates are going to be down a bit, but the East Division title still goes through the two-time defending champs. After narrowly missing in this game last September, UCF will be seeking revenge and an edge in the race to the Conference USA championship game in December. The winner of this game has taken the division in three of the last five years.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Yards per carry: UCF 3.5 – Opponents 2.6
- Punt return average: UCF 11.7 – Opponents 2.3
- Second half scoring: UCF 203 – Opponents 132

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