UCF Knights @ Akron Zips PreviewFootball, Sports — By Eric Py on August 30, 2012 at 11:50 am Tweet
Nearly nine months have passed since the UCF Knights have taken the field, and while their last game was a 31-14 victory over the UTEP Miners, their 5-7 record still left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
The Knights will look to start off this season strong against the Akron Zips on Thursday, the 29th at 7 P.M. The game can be found on ESPN 3 or 740 AM The Game.
The Knights were a detestable 0-6 on the road last year. A win to open the season would do more than just set the tone for a successful season, but also break the Knights winless road streak and help turn over a new leaf.
The Knights are poised to make a run this season. Coaches and players alike believe this team has something special, as players are stepping into their leadership roles and demanding the most out of their comrades, something last years team lacked.
Iliana Limón Romero of the Orlando Sentinel captured the words of Victor Gray, junior defensive lineman and leader of the defense, talking about the preparation the Knights have put in. “We hate to lose,” Gray said. “I hate to lose and last season was just awful. We worked harder than I’ve ever seen before during the offseason because we don’t want to go through anything like last season ever again. It’s just unacceptable.”
What to look for in tonight’s game:
Blake Bortles will take the reigns as UCF’s starting quarterback after sharing time with Jeff Godfrey last season as the Knights signal caller. After two seasons of shuffling quarterbacks, this marks the first season that UCF’s field general goes into the game after having the spring and summer to prepare for the starting role.
Bortles is a traditional pocket passing quarterback with a rocket of an arm, finishing last season with a 153.88 passer rating. He has a strong receiver set to pattern the field and should keep defenses at bay with their play action style offense.
To keep the defense honest, UCF boasts arguably the top running back trio in the conference. Latavius Murray, Brynn Harvey, and Miami transfer Storm Johnson all complement each other with their distinctive styles of running. Murray is a strong north and south runner, while Harvey is an elusive back who is shifty and difficult to tackle. Johnson is equipped with an elusive edge and lightning fast breakout speed, which the Knights hope will translate into big plays.
Using the three backs in rotation will not only keep defenses from becoming accustomed to the Knights run game, but fresh legs in the backfield should lead to big first downs in the 4th quarter and will open up the passing game all day.
The Knights defense has been golden, ranking 1st in rushing defense in C-USA since 2008 and 1st in total defense since 2009. The Knights and Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide are the only two teams to be ranked in the Top 20 rushing defense for the last three seasons. The defensive line has a combined 52 starts and players are still competing for the starting job, which attests to the talent and depth at the positions. Competition in the trenches not only fuels each player to drive harder but also allows fresh ambitious legs to get a crack at breaking through the O line. Look for Jose Jose, Victor Gray and Troy Davis to be at the center of the mayhem as the Knights look to assert their run stopping dominance.
The speculation can only go so far and once the players take the field, no one can truly know what will happen. No-name players can becomes heroes as teams realize their true identity, one week at a time.
One thing is certain though, there’s nothing like waking up on game day. Once that kick off is booted, players and fans jumping up and down while chanting in anticipation, all seems right in the world. At 7 P.M., the wait is finally over and College Football will have arrived.
Iliana Limón Romero’s Knights season preview can be found by following the link below. http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/2012-08-28/sports/os-ucf-football-season-preview-0830-20120819_1_victor-gray-kemal-ishmael-ucf-football-team