The Golden Knights begin their
Silver Anniversary season as members of the Mid-American Conference, after
completing their first year in the conference in 2002. UCF finished second in
the MAC East Division, ending the year 6-2 in conference play, with losses to
only MAC East Division Champion Marshall (26-21) and MAC West Division Champion
UCF ended the 2002 campaign 7-5 overall and winners of
its last four games. Virginia Tech completed 2002 with a mark of 10-4, including
a win over Air Force in the San Francisco Bowl. The Hokies are ranked No. 10 in
the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and ninth in the Associated Press Top
Celebrating 25 Years!
From the humble beginnings
of borrowed equipment to the bright lights of national television, UCF is
proudly celebrating its Silver Anniversary of football in 2003.
game left plenty to be desired, as a heavy downpour prior to kickoff flooded a
cow pasture turned football field in Dade City, Fla. A soggy crowd, exaggerated
at 1,000, watched as the upstarts from Orlando blanked St. Leo,
Just 25 years later, fans from across the nation will tune in to
watch the Knights’ season opener at Virginia Tech on ESPN Aug.
UCF and Virginia Tech are meeting
for the third time, including the second meeting in Blacksburg. The Hokies are
2-0 all-time vs. the Golden Knights, including a 44-21 win at the Florida Citrus
Bowl in 2000, along with a 46-14 victory in 2001 at home.
In the 2001
meeting in Blacksburg, UCF led 7-0 after the first quarter before the Hokies
scored 19 straight points in the second quarter en route to the win.
largest crowd ever to witness a UCF home game (50,220) came to watch the two
teams battle in 2000 in Orlando.
UCF is 0-4 in games vs. schools from the
BIG EAST. Last season, UCF dropped a 38-35 decision to Syracuse in Orlando. The
Golden Knights led 21-3 early in the game before the Orangemen rallied for the
UCF Tabbed Third In
The MAC East
Based on totals from the 42 MAC News Media Association
voters, the 2003 Mid-American Conference football season will be the closest
competition since the league’s divisional play began in 1997. For the first
time, Northern Illinois has been tabbed as the favorite to win the West Division
and walk off with the league trophy following the championship game December 4,
it was announced by the league office.
The East Division has three teams
separated by just six points as Miami (Ohio) was predicted as the division
champion with 254 points. Marshall was tabbed second (253) and UCF garnered
third place with 248 points. The Golden Knights received 11 first-place
UCF performed well in its first season in the MAC last year,
finishing second in the East Division with a 6-2 mark. The only blemishes on the
Golden Knights’ schedule were to the two teams that faced off for the 2002 MAC
Championship, Toledo and Marshall.
Northern Illinois, who captured a
share of the West title last year (tied with Toledo) and in 2001 (tied with
Toledo and Ball State), is the favorite from 15 teams to win the championship
Schneider On Davey O’Brien List
O’Brien Foundation announced the preseason watch list for the 2003 Davey O’Brien
National Quarterback Award and UCF senior Ryan Schneider was one of the 42
candidates named to the list. The Davey O’Brien Award is given annually to the
nation’s top college quarterback.
The O’Brien Award is the oldest and
most prestigious award in the country for college quarterbacks and is named in
honor of the late Davey O’Brien, the All-American and Heisman Trophy-winning
quarterback for Texas Christian University who led the Horned Frogs to the 1938
Schneider enters the 2003 campaign as the active
leader in college football with 69 career touchdown passes. The senior is also
second among active players with 9,027 career passing yards. Schneider is poised
to eclipse former UCF All-American Daunte Culpepper in the UCF record books in
both career passing yards and touchdowns.
In 2002, Schneider finished
third in the nation with 31 touchdown passes. The UCF signalcaller also ranked
fourth in the NCAA in pass efficiency and fifth in total offense.
Schneider ended the 2002 campaign with 3,770 passing yards, a new
single-season record at UCF. He also broke the single-game passing yardage mark
with 440 passing yards vs. Syracuse last year.
Bigby On Nagurski
The Charlotte Touchdown Club and the Football Writers
Association of America announced the 2003 watch list for the Bronko Nagurski
Trophy naming UCF strong safety Atari Bigby as a candidate for the post-season
honor. The award is given annually to recognize the top defensive player in
Bigby, who was named as an All-MAC First-Team Defensive
selection last season, is one of 36 finalists as identified by the nearly 800
members of the FWAA. He enters his junior season with the Golden Knights and is
coming off a sophomore year in which he registered over 100 tackles.
committee will select a defensive player of the week during the season, with
five finalists then being nominated for the award following the 2003 campaign.
The trophy will be presented to the winner at a banquet in Charlotte on Dec. 8
and will mark the 11th consecutive year that the FWAA has presented the award.
The award is named after Hall of Famer and University of Minnesota and
Chicago Bears star Bronko Nagurski.
UCF On TV In
UCF fans will have plenty of opportunities to view the Golden
Knights on television this season. Six games have been scheduled to air on ESPN,
ESPN 2 or Sunshine Network with additional games pending.
UCF opens the
season on ESPN August 31 at No. 9/10 Virginia Tech. The Golden Knights also host
Marshall, November 19 at 7:30 p.m. on ESPN for the first ever national
television appearance at home for UCF.
Sunshine Network announced that
four UCF football games will be televised live this season on Florida’s largest
regional sports network.
Additional UCF games may be added to Sunshine’s
schedule pending determination of the conference-produced “MAC Game of the Week”
Action kicks off with UCF taking on Syracuse live on
September 20, at noon (live in Orlando/Melbourne/Daytona Beach TV market only;
repeats statewide at 11 p.m.).
Other UCF games on Sunshine’s schedule
include: at Kent State on Sept. 27 at 2 p.m. (airs live statewide and repeats
Oct. 1, at 10 a.m.); at Ohio on Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. (live in Orlando/Daytona
Beach/Melbourne & Tampa/St. Pete TV markets only; repeats statewide 11
p.m.); and at West Virginia on Nov. 1 at 1 p.m. (live in
Orlando/Melbourne/Daytona Beach & Tampa/St. Pete TV markets only; repeats
statewide 11 p.m.).
Play-by-play announcer Rick Peckham will be alongside
analyst Brady Ackerman for UCF’s games against Syracuse, Kent State and West
Schneider Closing In On Daunte
quarterback Ryan Schneider is closing in on several of former UCF All-American
Daunte Culpepper’s school records. Schneider already broke Culpepper’s
single-game yardage mark last season vs. Syracuse (440 yards) and single-season
record (3,770 yards).
With 69 career touchdown passes, Schneider is the
active leader among NCAA quarterbacks and is just 15 shy of Culpepper’s mark of
84. The senior signal caller is also the top returning player in the nation in
pass efficiency (151.62).
Schneider is also second among active players
in career passing yards with 9,027. With 2,386 passing yards in 2003, Schneider
will eclipse Culpepper as UCF’s all-time leader in passing
With a touchdown pass vs. Virginia
Tech, Ryan Schneider will tie Daunte Culpepper’s school record with at least one
touchdown pass in 22 consecutive games. The last time Schneider did not throw a
touchdown was Sept. 8, 2001 at Syracuse.
An Offensive Machine In
Mike Kruczek’s offense was a machine in 2002, featuring a
3,000-yard passer, a 1,000-yard rusher and a pair of 1,000-yard
Ryan Schneider finished the 2002 campaign with school records
in passing yards (3,770) and touchdown passes (31). The 31 touchdown passes were
third in the nation.
Junior tailback Alex Haynes became just the fifth
back in UCF history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last year with 1,038 yards.
Haynes, who ranked sixth in the MAC in rushing, averaged an impressive 5.1 yards
Doug Gabriel and Jimmy Fryzel formed the top receiving tandem
in school history in 2002. Gabriel finished the year with a school record 1,237
receiving yards while Fryzel totaled 1,126 yards. Gabriel was a fifth round
draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in the 2003 NFL Draft while Fryzel signed a
free agent contract with the Miami Dolphins.
Alex Haynes is looking to become just the second
running back in UCF history to rush for 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons in
2003. Last year, Haynes raced for 1,038 yards, the third best figure in
single-season school history.
Only Marquette Smith has accomplished that
feat with 1,511 rushing yards in 1995 and 1,058 yards in 1994. Those totals rank
Smith first and fourth respectively on the single-season rushing list at
For his career, Haynes is already eighth at UCF with 1,728 yards. He
is also third with eight career 100-yard games.
UCF Head Coach
UCF head coach Mike Kruczek is known as one of the top
offensive minds in the nation and his teams have proven it. Entering his sixth
season at the helm, Kruczek is 33-23 and has finished with a winning record in
four of the five years he has been head coach at UCF.
Since taking over
as the head coach of the program in 1998, Kruczek’s teams have finished in the
top 15 nationally in passing offense. The Golden Knights ranked sixth in 2002
and ninth in 2001 in the NCAA. In Kruczek’s first year at the helm, he led UCF
to a sixth place showing in NCAA passing offense.
Prior to being named
the head coach of the Golden Knight program in 1998, Kruczek served as the
offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach at UCF since 1985.
UCF has had
a quarterback finish in the top 20 nationally in total offense each of the past
seven years, including three in the top five. A Golden Knight receiver has
ranked in the top 20 in the nation in six of the past seven seasons, including
four in the top 10.
Kruczek, a former All-American quarterback at Boston
College, won two Super Bowl rings with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1978 and
Since 1996, UCF is among the
nation’s top passing offenses in several categories. The Golden Knights have
thrown for 23,614 yards, seventh among all teams since 1996. UCF has also tossed
31 300-yard games (sixth) and five 400-yard games (12th) since the ‘96
Despite seven wins, including a
6-2 mark in the MAC East Division to place UCF second, the 2002 campaign could
have been much better.
The Golden Knights lost four games by five points
or less, including two vs. BCS schools.
In the season opener, UCF lost
27-24 at No. 24 Penn State while Syracuse escaped with a 38-35 win in Orlando on
Nov. 2. UCF once led 21-3 vs. the Orangemen before falling to defeat.
Golden Knights also lost to both teams that played in the MAC Championship game
by a combined eight points. Marshall defeated UCF 26-21 in Huntington and Toledo
won 27-24 in Orlando.
UCF vs. Ranked Teams
0-11 all-time vs. ranked opponents. The Golden Knights have faced six opponents
in the AP Top 10 since the 1995 season.
UCF has faced Virginia Tech twice
as the Hokies were ranked eighth in both meetings. In the 2001 game in Orlando,
Va. Tech became the highest ranked team ever to play UCF at the Citrus
The last time UCF played a ranked opponent the Golden Knights lost,
27-24 at No. 24 Penn State.
UCF vs. AP Ranked
Date Opp. Result
9/23/95 at #1 Florida State * L,
9/13/97 at # 6 Nebraska L, 38-24
9/27/97 at #8 Auburn L,
9/4/99 #22 Purdue L, 47-13
9/11/99 at #4 Florida L, 58-27
at #12 Ga. Tech L, 41-10
9/25/99 at #11 Georgia L, 24-23
11/1/00 at #8 Va.
Tech L, 44-21
9/1/01 at #19 Clemson L, 21-13
9/29/01 #8 Va. Tech L,
8/31/02 at #24 Penn State L, 27-24
* UCF was in Division
UCF In Season Openers
UCF is 14-10 all-time in
season openers, including a 1-4 mark under Mike Kruczek. Over the last five
years, the Golden Knights have played some of the nation’s elite programs in the
season opener including No. 24 Penn State, No. 19 Clemson, Georgia Tech and No.
22 Purdue. Four of the five games under Kruczek have been on the road to start
the season, including a 64-30 victory at Louisiana Tech on Sept. 5, 1998, the
first coaching win for Kruczek.
Virginia Tech enters the 2003 season ranked No. 10 in the
ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 9 in the Associated Press Top
Several Tech players have garnered preseason honors, including
tailback Kevin Jones, center Jake Grove and defensive end Nathaniel Adibi. Grove
and Adibi were both named preseason All-Americans while Jones was a second-team
preseason All-America honoree by The Sporting News.
At quarterback, the
Hokies return junior Bryan Randall and also welcome redshirt freshman Marcus
Vick. Randall threw for 2,134 yards in 2002 while Vick is the hyped younger
brother of former Tech All-American Michael Vick.
Both quarterbacks will
have the luxury of having Ernest Wilford at wide receiver. Wilford set a new
school record with 51 catches a year ago.
Defensively, Tech returns nine
starters, led by linebacker Vegas Robinson. A year ago, Robinson totaled 71
tackles despite missing three games.
Head coach Frank Beamer is the fifth
winningest active coach in the nation with a career record of 159-92-4 in 22
seasons. Beamer has guided his alma mater to 10 consecutive bowl
Due to the Health
Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), UCF team staff including
coaches and trainers will only release certain information on an injury. UCF
will only release if it is a lower body or upper body injury and the player’s
status for the upcoming game.