Oct. 16, 2006
ORLANDO - For the first time in more than a month, the UCF football team will return to college football's traditional game day as the Golden Knights will face Rice on Saturday, Oct. 21 at the Florida Citrus Bowl. UCF last played on a Saturday against USF on Sept. 16 when the Knights suffered a 24-17 setback to the Bulls.
The match-up with the Owls will be the second in series history after the teams played for the first time in 2005. UCF won that contest, rallying for a 31-28 victory that clinched the Conference USA East Division title and gave the Golden Knights the right to host the inaugural championship game at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
Both teams won their last league contests by one point in dramatic fashion as UCF placekicker Michael Torres connected on a 22-yard field goal with six seconds remaining to lift the Golden Knights to a 23-22 win on the road at Marshall on Oct. 4. The Owls' pass-and-catch combination of Chase Clement and Jarrett Dillard hooked up for its third touchdown of the game in the waning seconds against UAB, giving the Owls a 34-33 victory over the Blazers last Saturday.
Dillard leads the nation with 11 touchdown catches and has caught at least one touchdown in nine-consecutive games - the longest current streak in Division I-A. The game will feature the top two pass catchers in Conference USA, as UCF senior Mike Walker trails only Dillard in receptions with 41 on the season. The sophomore leads the league with 53 catches and 683 yards.
UCF Quick Hits
? UCF is 1-0 in its series with Rice dating back to last season, the Golden Knights first in Conference USA. In last season's meeting, Steven Moffett threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall with 1:25 left, giving UCF the 31-28 win. The victory solidified the Golden Knights' spot in the inaugural Conference USA title game. ? Even though the program is in its 28th season, UCF has seen only four lettermen hail from the Lone Star State and each came from a community college. The 2006 UCF squad has freshman RB Phillip Smith of Mansfield, the first straight out of high school.
All-Time UCF Lettermen from Texas
?Harvey Joiner, TE, Austin 2003-04 Played in 21 games, 5 rec. for 73 yards
?Mike Mabry, C, Dayton 2001-02 Started all 23 games at center
?Josh Stevens, DE, Port Arthur 2003-04 Played in 21 games, 7 starts, 50 tackles
?Kyle Watkins, OT, Keller 2002-03 Started 21 of 24 games at right tackle
? UCF has played five institutions from Texas in football, including C-USA members Houston and Rice. The UCF vs. State of Texas actually started in the mid-80's while the Golden Knights played at the Division II level, facing the Texas State Bobcats (San Marcos) and Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (Nacogdoches) during the 1984-85 seasons. Shortly after, UCF would host the Texas Southern Tigers (Houston) when it transitioned to Division I-AA in the 1989-90 seasons.
Facing Conference USA
? Since joining C-USA last season, UCF has an identical regular season league record of 4-1 at home and 4-1 on the road. Both regular season losses have come to Southern Miss.
? UCF also fell to Tulsa, 44-27, in last year's postseason C-USA title game at the Florida Citrus Bowl.
? UCF is a combined 11-11 all-time against the current C-USA line-up, having faced nine of the 11 teams in its football history.
? Of those nine C-USA teams, UCF has...
A winning record vs. four:
Tied with one:
Losing record vs. four:
East Carolina (1-4)
Southern Miss (0-2)
? UCF has never played SMU or UTEP.
On Record Pace
After nearly setting a home attendance mark last season of 142,401, Golden Knight fans are on pace to increase that total and break the record established in 1988 when 153,343 attended seven UCF home games. Through four games this season, 135,506 fans have come through the gates at the Florida Citrus Bowl. If the average of 33,877 holds, the Golden Knights will surpass the 200,000 mark for the first time in school history.
So far this season, the third and seventh-largest crowds in program history have come out to the Citrus Bowl to watch UCF football. The 46,708 to attend the USF game topped last year's USF road game in Tampa (45,319) by 1,389.
The 76,108 in back-to-back home regular season games to start the 2006 year was the most in a two-game regular season home span in program history, topping the 75,313 that came to the Virginia Tech (50,220) and La.-Monroe (25,093) games in 2000. Last year, 84,613 came out to the postseason C-USA title game and the Houston game (32,635) just before that on Nov. 5.
UCF on National TV a Record Six Times in 2006
The UCF football team will play in front of a national audience a record six-times in 2006, surpassing the five national appearances the program made in 2005. Overall, the Golden Knights have eight televised games in 2006 - also a record amount.
Since moving up to Division I in 1996, the program has made 55 televised appearances, including 14 on national television. The team's last three games were all aired on the ESPN family of networks. The C-USA tilts with Southern Miss and Marshall were both broadcasted on ESPN2, while the Pittsburgh contest was aired live on ESPN.
Kevin Smith Stepping Up In League Play
Sophomore tailback Kevin Smith has rushed for 1,006 yards through the first 10 Conference USA regular season contests of his career. A preseason first-team All-C-USA pick by the leagues' coaches, Smith has lived up to those expectations through the first two league games of the 2006 campaign. His average of 147.5 tops in the league as he surpassed the 100-yard plateau in back-to-back games (129 vs. Southern Miss and 166 vs. Marshall). Smith is averaging 94.6 yards rushing in five overall games - a total that ranks third among C-USA running backs.
Mike Walker Returns to All-Conference Form in `06
Senior receiver Mike Walker has returned to the all-conference form that he has been accustomed to during his career at UCF. This season, Walker leads the team with 41 receptions for 478 yards and three touchdowns. During the first six games, he has either led the team in receptions or receiving yards in every game and now has caught at least one pass in 22 straight games.
Against Pittsburgh, Walker led the team with his eight catches for 73 yards. At Marshall, Walker equaled the team high with five catches, churning up 81 yards, including a 28-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter. Against USF, he caught a career-high 12 passes for 133 yards. It was his top single-game performance, statistically, since the Memphis game (10-157) last season. At Florida, he also led the the team with six catches. In the season-opener against Villanova, Walker led the team with six catches for 77 yards, including two first-half touchdows of three and 13 yards, respectively. It was the third two-touchdown game of his career (at Southern Miss and East Carolina last season).
The 100-yard effort against USF, the sixth of his career, landed him in the UCF record books tying for 10th on the list with Bernard Ford (1985-87) and Tyson Hinshaw (1997-00). Walker's other career totals are also moving close to the UCF record lists.
? 9. 135 receptions - Next No. 8 Jimmy Fryzel, 137 (99-02)
? T10. 6 100-yard games - Next No. 9 Jimmy Fryzel, 7 (99-02)
? 1,861 rec. yards - Next No. 10 Tyson Hinshaw, 1,874, (97-00)
? 13 TD receptions - Next No. 10, Three Players, 16
Walker Selected For Las Vegas All-American Classic Senior wide receiver Mike Walker will be among six players from Conference USA playing in the 2007 Las Vegas All-American Classic. This year's contest is slated for a 4 p.m. ET kickoff on Jan. 15 at Sam Boyd Stadium. The game will be televised live on the NFL Network and re-played again during prime time.
Javid James Emerges On Offense
Junior Javid James has caught at least two passes in his last three games since making his first-career start against Southern Miss on Sept. 26. In those three games, James has caught 14 passes for 170 yards and a touchdown. The New Orleans native ranks second in Conference USA, averaging six catches a game in league play.
James led the team with 86 yards receiving on five catches against Marshall on Oct. 4. The five receptions tied for a team-high with senior All-Conference standout Mike Walker.
Against Southern Miss, James was the first wide receiver besides Walker to lead the Golden Knights in catches for a game this season after he hauled in seven for 70 yards against the Golden Eagles.
Prior to that Southern Miss game, James had just one career reception, a six-yard grab in last year's game vs. the Golden Eagles. The six-foot-three wideout also caught his first career touchdown in the Southern Miss contest, a six-yard scoring play late in the fourth quarter that pulled the Golden Knights within five points.
New-Look Offensive Line
UCF's offensive line had a new look against Marshall and Pittsburgh. Senior right guard Dan Veenstra and junior left guard Dominic Ignelzi both made their first starts of the season. Ignelzi was starting for the first time since the 2004 season, when he started all 11 games as a true freshman. Junior Kyle Smith, who had started the first four games at left guard, moved to center against the Thundering Herd. Smith had replaced senior Cedric Gagne-Marcoux, who had started 28 consecutive games for UCF, dating back to the 2004 season opener versus Wisconsin.
Steven Baker's Back, Inserted into Line-Up
A week after making his season debut, junior linebacker Steven Baker was inserted into the starting line-up for the Pittsburgh game, where he had two solo tackles. After missing the first four games of the 2006 season following a knee injury, he made his debut at Marshall totaling six tackles. A former walk-on wide receiver, he was moved to linebacker prior to the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl last season. In the bowl game versus Nevada, he had his first career sack and three total tackles. Baker injured his knee during spring drills.