Aug. 27, 2006
ORLANDO - The UCF football team opens the 2006 campaign on Saturday, hosting Villanova at the Florida Citrus Bowl. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m.
The Golden Knights are coming off of a historic season a year ago in which the squad went 8-5 overall, claimed the Conference USA East Division title and played in a bowl game for the first time in program history. Head coach George O'Leary's team returns 39 letterwinners from 2005.
UCF and Villanova will be meeting for the fist time. The Wildcats went 4-7 in 2005.
The contest will be aired live on the UCF ISP Sports Network. Pregame radio coverage will begin at 4 p.m. Marc Daniels will handle the play-by-play duties and Gary Parris will provide the color commentary. Jerry O'Neill will report from the sidelines.
A live radio webcast and live stats will be available at www.ucfathletics.com.
Season ticket orders for the 2006 campaign are still being accepted. Call 407-UCF-1000 for ticket information.
UCF-Villanova Game Notes
? The 2006 season opener vs. Villanova marks the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
? All-time, UCF is 57-61-1 (.483) in 119 first meetings, along with a 2-5 record during the O'Leary era.
? Last season, UCF faced six opponents for the first time and this season, UCF will face another two in Villanova and Pittsburgh. On the 2006 schedule, UCF has only faced one of its foes at least five times (East Carolina). Combined, UCF has played 21 games against its 12 opponents.
? UCF is 6-2 against schools currently playing in the Atlantic 10 football conference and 3-3 against schools from the Keystone State.
? UCF is 14-13 all-time in 27 season-opening contests and will look to break a program-high seven game losing streak in the season's first game. However, UCF has faced some of the top teams in the nation to start the season, including Steve Spurrier's South Carolina debut in 2005, #21 Wisconsin in 2004, #9 Virginia Tech in 2003, #24 Penn State in 2002, #19 Clemson in 2001, Georgia Tech in 2000 and #22 Purdue in 1999.
? UCF will also open the season for the first time at home since 1999, six seasons ago. UCF is 11-6 in 17 season openers at home last winning in 1996, its first season in Division I-A.
? Head Coach George O'Leary is 5-4 in season openers. He missed UCF's 2004 opener to attend the funeral for his mother.
? The Villanova game will mark the first against a Division I-AA school during the George O'Leary era. The last DI-AA school UCF played against was Florida Atlantic (W 33-29 in Orlando) in the 2003 season, the Owls final season in Division I-AA.
? Since UCF made the move to Division I-A for the 1996 season, the Golden Knights have gone 13-0 against Division I-AA opponents, including the FAU game.
? UCF participated in Division I-AA from 1990 through 1995 under former Head Coach Gene McDowell. UCF had played at the Division II level for the nine previous seasons (1982-1989) and the Division III level in its first three years (1979-81).
? During those six DI-AA seasons, UCF went a combined 44-25 and advanced to the Division I-AA playoffs twice in 1990 and 1993.
? All-time, UCF is 63-52 against teams that are currently playing at the Division I-AA level.
UCF Returns Strong Nucleus in 2006 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 as Conference USA Eastern Division champions.
UCF returns 17 letterwinners on offense and 22 letterwinners on the defensive side of the football.
Preseason Favorites in Conference USA UCF was picked to finish first in the East Division of Conference USA, according to the league's head coaches. The Golden Knights collected 65 of a possible 72 points in the East, ahead of Southern Mississippi (52), Memphis (43), Marshall (35), UAB (28), and East Carolina (25).
Tulsa was selected as the favorite in the West Division of C-USA with 61 points, just in front of second-place UTEP (60). In the 2005 C-USA Preseason Poll, the Golden Knights were selected to finish in a tie for last in the East.
Three players were named to the preseason all-conference team. Sophomore Kevin Smith and senior center Cedric Gagne-Marcoux were first-team offensive selections, while sophomore cornerback Joe Burnett was a preseason all-conference selection on both defense and at punt returner.
Nation's Most Experienced Offensive Line UCF Returns all five starters and the nation's most experienced offensive line in terms of career starts to the field in 2006. Last year's starting unit of left tackle Patrick Brown, left guard Kyle Smith, center Cedric Gagne-Marcoux, right guard L.J. Anderson and right tackle Josh Sitton return with 93 combined career starts.
Gagne-Marcoux leads the way with 33 career starts. He has taken every snap of the 33 games he has played in, including every snap over the last two seasons.
The Foundation Begins George O'Leary and his coaching staff have begun to lay the groundwork for a strong foundation at UCF. The transformation has started in the classroom, where UCF has established several new academic records.
Over the summer, the team posted a grade point average of 2.98. The Golden Knights, who enter the 2006 season with no student-athletes on academic probation, have an overall cumulative team GPA of 2.81. Ten players earned a perfect 4.00 GPA, while 62 total student-athletes had a 3.00 GPA or higher.