Spring Football Practice to Begin Wednesday

March 16, 2006

ORLANDO - Defending Conference USA Eastern Division champion UCF begins spring practice Wednesday, March 22 in the Nicholson Fieldhouse. Head coach George O'Leary welcomes nearly 75 percent of last season's letterwinners back in 2006 for the Golden Knights. UCF returns 76 percent of its starters from a year ago when the Golden Knights finished the season 8-5, including a 7-1 mark in C-USA.

O'Leary recently sat down with UCFAthletics.com for a short Q&A about spring practice.

Q: How much different is it going into spring practice this year after going to a bowl game and winning the Eastern Division Championship of Conference USA?

O'Leary: I think the biggest area we need to concentrate on is attitude. We were very lucky last year to win some games in the fourth quarter and those games could have gone either way. Right now, I am very concerned about some of our players thinking they are a lot better than they are. I think we have plenty of work to get done this spring.

Q: Despite only losing five senior starters, how concerned are you about the quality of players lost?

O'Leary: We have a large amount of players returning, but you are always looking at the quality of players coming back. We lost five productive players and our team this spring has plenty of growing and maturing to do to replace some of the key seniors who have graduated.

Q: What are you looking for out of the place-kickers in the spring?

O'Leary: We lose two players (Matt Prater, John Brown) who were consistent and who we were able to count on, but I feel very comfortable with both Michael Torres and Nick Beucher at place-kicker this spring. I saw both kickers on the practice field last year and both players possess strong legs and should be very productive for us. I feel very comfortable on where the team is in the kicking game going into spring drills.

Q: Were there any players who redshirted or played sparingly in 2005 who caught your eye in practice leading up to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl?

O'Leary: I think Jayson Williams is a talented football player. We are moving him to defensive back (from running back) and he is going to get a look.

I am still anxious to see what Richard Clark can do for us on the offensive line as he returns from a knee injury. The tight end position is also an intriguing group with redshirt freshmen J.R. Sandlin and Travis Ferrer along with senior Sinclair Brown. Sinclair is under the radar right now, but we need him to be productive at the tight end position.

Q: How important was the bowl game for the growth of the UCF football program?

O'Leary: I think the bowl game is great for the fans and players, but as a coach you pick up 10 to 12 extra practices. It is another spring practice for the young players who you don't get to spend a ton of time with during the regular season. The extra bowl practices also show the coaching staff what your real needs are from a recruiting standpoint.

Q: What are your goals heading into spring practice?

O'Leary: Our main objective is to leave the spring with a solid two-deep roster heading into the season. We want to be able to look at the depth chart after spring practice and see if we need to pencil in certain freshmen on the depth chart to help us next season. Our players here in the spring will have every chance to stay on the depth chart going in to fall practice, but if I feel we can't win or be successful with the returners, we will look at the freshmen to see how they can help us.