George O’Leary’s Knights had a very difficult 2008 season, finishing with a disappointing 4-8 record after coming off a promising 10-4 campaign in 2007. O’Leary has a lot of work ahead of him if he wants his program to return to the dominant team they were in 2007.
Unlike the injury plagued 2008 season, the Knights have many variables on their side coming into 2009. The offensive will return 10 of the 11 starters from 2008. Their only loss (and a big one) is All C-USA left tackle, Patrick Brown. Brown’s run blocking ability will be greatly missed. However the Knights have converted defensive tackles Theo Goins and Wes Tunuufi Sauvao into offensive lineman and the feeling is that these two are capable of filling the void.
Sophomore quarterback, David Calabrese will return to anchor the offense. Last year as a freshman Calabrese had his fair share of struggles, which is expected for such a young quarterback. On the other hand he also showed signs of brilliance at times. This year he will have the receiving duo of A.J. Guyton and Rocky Ross, who both suffered season terminating injuries, back in action. This along with the return of the big H-Back, Corey Rabazinski will give the Knights plenty of threats on offense.
The defense on the other had taken a bit of a beating during the off season. They return 6 of the front 7 so the run defense should not be a problem for the Knights as they finished 3rd in the nation in tackles for loss and 26th in sacks. It is going to be the passing game that UCF will have to worry about after losing virtually the entire secondary. They have 4 solid defensive back recruits coming in for the 2009 season, the only question is whether the freshman will be able to adapt to the new schemes and make a contribution in their first year.
The 2009 seasons looks promising if, and only if, O’Leary can get his secondary up to par with the rest of his squad. He has a mean defensive front that should be able to help take a bit of pressure off the inexperienced secondary. If this happens, and everyone remains healthy than there is no reason that UCF should be able to revert to the success enjoyed in 2007.
Predicted Record: 7-5