Central Florida Knights 2013 College Football Preview
2012 Overall: 10-4 (7-1 Conference USA)
Bright House Networks Stadium
The University of Central Florida Knights roll into American Athletic Conference play after a 10 win season and bowl victory in 2012. The Knights return mostly all key players on both sides of the ball and should step right in as one of the better teams in the league.
OFFENSE: The UCF offense will be loaded this year and feature one of the AAC’s top quarterbacks in Blake Bortles. The 6 foot 4 junior threw for 3,059 yards and 25 interceptions last season. Bortles will throw to five of his top six receivers from last year, including top two targets J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall. Worton led the Knights with five touchdowns and Hall led the way with just over 600 yards on the year. The Knights will be tasked with replacing 1,000 yard rusher Latavius Murray and the tailback spot remains one of the few uncertainties on the UCF roster. Keep an eye on the battle between Storm Johnson and Cedric Thompson throughout August as coach George O’Leary is eager for one of them to emerge as a reliable every down option. Up front, the Knights return three of their starting lineman from a year ago and expect some highly regarded youngsters to compete with transfer Jordan Prestwood for immediate playing time at the other slots.
DEFENSE: The Knights were one of the top defenses in the country in multiple statistical categories last year and were the class of Conference-USA by a wide margin. The Knights ranked 16th nationally in turnover margin and top in the C-USA in scoring defense. This unit is anchored by linebacker Terrance Plummer and safety Clayton Geathers. Both racked up over 100 tackles last year and I expect Geathers to make the transition to free-safety from strong fairly seamlessly. Up front, the Knights return a strong unit and expect big production from rising sophomore Thomas Niles who had multiple sacks last year and proved to be a handful for opposing offensive lines.
SPECIAL TEAMS: Shawn Moffitt returns for the Knights kicking duties. Mofftin was 58-63 on point after try’s last year and 10-14 on field goals. I would expect him to improve with a full offseason under his belt. Freshman Caleb Houston will be thrown into the fire at the punter position.
OUTLOOK: Central Florida should find the transition to the AAC to be a smooth one and given Louisville and Rutgers brief stay, the Knights are primed to be the class of this league for years to come. I expect the Knights to get to the 7-8 win mark this year and slide just above UConn into the top 4 in the conference rankings behind Louisville, Rutgers, and Cinnci. Look for a big season from Bortles and his receiving corps and for the UCF defense to not miss a beat with the slight step up in competition.