More Burnett?

Joe Burnett (Reinhold Matay/AP)

Anyone who has watched UCF football this season knows the issues they have on offense, and if they watched at the beginning of the season they would know that the Knights have a dynamic return man in Joe Burnett, who is amongst the national leaders in both kickoff and punt returns. Could we see more of Joe Burnett? Couldn't hurt. Find out what Coach O'Leary had to say.

Burnett is not only a speed return guy, but he's also the best cornerback on the team, and thus a lock to be playing on Sunday's next year. Recently, the Knights haven't been able to use Burnett's explosive return abilities due to opposing teams kicking away from him with consistency, and using the rugby style kicks to nullify any opportunities for returns.

What makes this possible for opponents of the Knights has been the utter ineffectiveness of the offense. Teams are simply not worried about losing field position to an offense that is ranked dead last in the country.

"Normally you don't kick short on all that stuff and you don't kick it into the ground because you're worried about field position," UCF head coach George O'Leary told reporters in Tuesday afternoon's press conference. "People aren't concerned, and the offense is affecting the special teams."

Ever since the Knights 20-14 loss at Miami in which Burnett nearly broke a punt return early in the game, and later took back a kickoff 91 yards to the house, teams have simply opted to stay away from Burnett. A wise choice.

"We are doing whatever we can do to get him back in the ball game, but they are not kicking to him," O'Leary said. "In the punt game they are just kicking it out of bounds or down the side line. You need a net to get anything done there. When he has an opportunity, we need to make hay with it. The kick return and punt return game statistically have done very well in conference and in the nation. People can take more opportunities (to keep it away for Joe in the kicking game) because we are not getting anything done on offense."

So how do you get the team's most elusive player more involved in the football game? Why not have him take a few snaps on offense? As ludicrous as it may sound, how can the Knights offense get any worse? Certainly adding a playmaker to the foray can't hurt.

"The only way right now to get him the ball is to put him on offense," O'Leary said.

Was the head coach hinting at something that could come in the team's final three games, or was he just making a point? At this time it's unclear, but the coach did later make a coy reference to the team's practice (which was closed to the media) after he was asked if we could expect to see Burnett on offense.

Can Joe Burnett play offense? Nobody knows for sure, but he's the best athlete on the team. Would he upset chemistry on that side of the ball? That's not really a concern because there is none. It's possible that Burnett could take some of the pressure off the young guys playing at quarterback and in the backfield.

Inside Knights asked Burnett after last week's loss if he had thought about playing offense. Burnett said—"Not really, I haven't practiced on that side of the ball."

Burnett then went on to say that he would do anything to help the team even if it included some package with him lining up offensively.

If there was ever a time for experimentation, it is now. The team has a 2-7 record, the postseason is no longer a concern, and if they can catch a little lightning in a bottle by utilizing their best athlete, why not do it?

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