College Football Preview: The 2014 Central Florida Knights
Central Florida will be in the running for the AAC crown in 2014.
2014 College Football Preview
The Central Florida Knights have high expectations despite the loss of star Blake Bortles.
Overview: George O'Leary has built a rock solid program at Central Florida but their success will be tested with the loss of their star quarterback, running back and and several all conference linemen.
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Offense: Bortles takes almost 3,600 passing yards with him to the NFL so who can replace his production and solid decision making? 2013 backup Justin Holman seems like the logical choice but he has 14 passes to his credit so whoever takes the job will have virtually no experience. If O'Leary gets a competent signal caller then he will succeed with tremendous talent and depth in the receiving corps. Rannell Hall, JJ Worton, Breshad Perriman and UAB transfer Jackie Williams give the Knights one of the top group of receivers around. The running game is a question mark with leading rusher Storm Johnson (213-1139) gone which leaves William Stanbeck as the top option with 443 yards a year ago while several high profile recruits could contribute immediately. The O-Line loses three all conference performers so we have to see this group perform to form an opinion.
Defense: If experience accounts for anything UCF is in fantastic shape on the defensive side of the football with returning players everywhere. The defensive line gets four of the top five back including DE Thomas Niles who recorded eight TFL and four sacks. Terrance Plummer leads a deep linebacking crew with 86 tackles, 8.5 TFL. 2.5 sacks and two picks so he does everything. The secondary gets everybody back which is bad news for opposing passing attacks as this group got their hands on plenty of balls with the top four recording eight interceptions and 38 passes defensed.
Special Teams: Caleb Houston averaged 42 yards per punt while placekicker Shawn Moffitt was automatic at 21-23. Hall will bring back kicks and Worton averaged 12 yards on eleven punt returns.
Outlook: Central Florida has some big names to replace but O'Leary knows how to find talent and gameplan. The Knights will do their share of winning and in my view the only question is whether they have enough to win the AAC.