Knights Hope For More Balance
UCF Sideline (John Raoux/AP)
Editor-in-Chief
Posted Aug 2, 2009
Charlie Bernstein, JagNation.com


The Knights had a difficult time closing out games last season and a large part of that was due to an inexperienced offense not getting the job done. A year wiser and a year more talented, the offense should be better and that will undoubtedly help out a defense that was on the field way too often.

It’s no secret that last season’s UCF team was dependent on its stellar defense to win games. The defense had the much more experienced players so it was obvious that they were going to be more advanced than the guys on the other side of the ball. This was evident from the early practices on.

This season, most of the team’s stars are still on defense, but the Knights are certainly hoping for more balance, as the defense was simply on the field for far too long a year ago and ended up giving up plays at the end of games, mainly due to exhaustion.

“The [problem] was offense, if we would have gotten something done there, a lot of those overtime games, those one touchdown, one field goal games would have been easily reversed,” said Knights head coach George O’Leary during last week’s C-USA Media Day.

The Knights’ defensive statistics were somewhat pedestrian a year ago, at least on a national scale, but the talent was certainly there and they have much of that talent returning, especially in the front seven.

“Defensively, we return everybody up front in the two deep except for one player and we’re fortunate enough to get back a Darius Nall, who was an All-Conference freshman player, that returns after a year out with an injury,” the Knights coach lamented.

If the Knights’ offense can give their defense even a moderate amount of rest in 2009, they should build on last season’s success.

“If you look at the overall team, our defense was first or second in most categories in our conference,” O’Leary said.

O’Leary believes that the offense will be motivated due to last season’s 119th overall ranking.

“I do think the kids, I think offensively this year, they have a little chip on their shoulder,” said the Knights’ head man. “They understand what could have been, what could have happened but what didn’t happen. The biggest thing last year, it was like coaching two different teams from a defensive and offensive standpoint. That goes with a lot of youth and inexperience on offense.”

The Knights have more experience this year and a solid rushing attack should pave the way for some old school, physical football, which many teams in the C-USA don’t play. If the Knights can physically manhandle teams at the line of scrimmage, it’s conceivable that they can flip 2008’s 4-8 record right around.



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