The University of Central Florida are coming off arguably the best season in school history as they compiled a 12-1 record and went on to win the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
However, things are going to be different in 2014 for the Knights. Star quarterback Blake Bortles has left for the NFL meaning Pete DiNovo steps in under center while running back Storm Johnson also left for the pros.
The Knights have ten players returning on a defense that includes three All-Conference selections in linebacker Terrance Plummer, cornerback Jacoby Glenn and safety Clayton Geathers. Despite losing Jeff Godfrey the Knights still have three outstanding wideouts in J.J. Worton, Rannell Hall and Breshad Perriman.
After the success of Bortles last year the Knights’ quarterback play will undoubtedly take a step back this year with DiNovo under center. He also won’t be able to rely heavily on the rushing game which is led by sophomore William Stanback. The Knights’ offensive line also leaves a lot to be desired after losing starters Jordan and Justin McCray as well as Chris Martin.
Three Players to Watch
Terrance Plummer – One of the best inside linebackers in college football, he had 110 tackles last season with 2.5 sacks and two interceptions. He made three preseason watch lists highlighting that he is a must see player in 2014.
William Stanback – The sophomore running back amassed 443 rushing yards as freshman last season but in 2014 he’ll be expected to carry the load for the Knights. Despite a questionable offensive line, watch for Stanback to have a very good year.
Pete DiNovo – All eyes will be on DiNovo this year as he replaces Bortles at quarterback. The redshirt freshman has big shoes to fill but he has an outstanding receiving corps to make the transition easier.
Three Can’t Miss Games
Aug.30 vs. Penn State (in Dublin, Ireland) – While the first game of the season is exciting the fact that this game is being played in Ireland makes it even more attractive. It’s the fifth college football game to be played in the country and will provide a good match-up between two quality teams. They also met last season with UCF edging the Nittany Lions 34-31 at Beaver Stadium.
Sept. 13 @ Missouri – This could arguably be UCF’s toughest game of the season as they battle the SEC runner-up Tigers on the road. Missouri aren’t expected to have a similar season as last year but an early road visit to an SEC team is never a stroll in the park.
Dec 4 vs. East Carolina – UCF’s final game of the season comes against the Pirates and it could well be a game that affects the outcome of the AAC title. Both teams are considered two of the favourites for the title and this match-up could hold title implications for either team. UCF also got a break by not having to face the Cincinnati Bearcats in 2014, the other team, along with Houston, who are widely expected to compete for the AAC crown.
UCF won’t quite repeat the season they had last year but don’t be surprised to see them win the AAC title. They’ll no doubt be playing in a bowl game at season’s end — the question is just how big.
Record: 9-3, second in AAC
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