UCF Football Game Notes - Samford Sept. 5

Aug. 31, 2009

UCF Game Notes in PDF Format

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The 2009 UCF football season gets underway Saturday, Sept. 5, with the 11th meeting between UCF and Samford at 7:30 p.m. Tickets for the game against the Bulldogs can be purchased by calling 407-823-1000 or by visiting UCFAthletics.com.

? This will be the 31st year of UCF football, as the Knights began as an NCAA Division III member in 1979.
? The Black and Gold is 18-12 in season openers and has won its last three.
? Meanwhile, UCF is 22-8 in home openers, as the Knights are 7-2 in their last nine and 11-3 in their last 14.
? UCF holds onto a 7-3 all-time lead in the series with Samford, and was victorious in both games played against the Bulldogs (1996 and 1997) after the Knights jumped to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
? Since joining the FBS for the 1996 season, UCF is 16-0 against FCS programs (including Florida Atlantic in 2003) with all of those games being played in Orlando. The Knights' last loss against an FCS program came at home at the hands of Liberty in 1995.
? In those 16 games, UCF outscored its opponents 623-193.
? The Knights return 100-percent of their rushing yards, 100-percent of their passing yards and 99.6-percent of their receiving yards from last year's team.
? Returning almost the entire two-deep from the front seven, UCF was third in the nation in TFLs a year ago and 26th in sacks. As a whole, the Knights led C-USA in both rushing defense and passing efficiency defense.

? Charlie Taaffe begins his first year as UCF's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach after two seasons as the head coach of the CFL's Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He has over 35 years of coaching experience. Taaffe's biggest strength is his versatility, having won the Southern Conference title at The Citadel running a traditional option offense, the ACC title as offensive coordinator at Maryland running a pro-style offense and was the two-time CFL Coach of the Year running a typically wide-open Canadian offense.
? Also a new face on the staff is Sean Beckton, who is a member of the UCF Athletics Hall of Fame. Beckton is now the defensive backs coach after working as an assistant with the AFL's Orlando Predators. Beckton was the Knights' wide receivers coach from 1996-03, an offensive graduate assistant from 1992-93 and a standout receiver for UCF during the 1987-90 seasons.

? The Knights have a wealth of veteran returnees from 2008 who are now a year older, wiser and stronger. Overall, the Black and Gold have 20 starters returning, including 10 on offense, six on defense and four on special teams. It lost just nine starters with five of the vacancies coming on the defensive side of the ball.

? 100-percent of its rushing yards.
? 100-percent of its passing yards.
? 99.6-percent of its receiving yards.
The only player lost is wide receiver Sidney Haynes (3 REC, 10 YDS, 0 TD).

? Wide receiver Rocky Ross enters his senior year after earning a medical redshirt a year ago due to a broken collar bone suffered vs. UTEP. As a junior, Ross led the Knights with 50 receptions and 658 yards for an average of 47.0 yards per game.

? One of several starters for UCF who missed all or most of the 2008 season due to injury was wide receiver A.J. Guyton who suffered a season-ending knee injury during 2008's preseason camp. Guyton was fourth on the C-USA title team in receptions with 23 in 2007 and third with 253 receiving yards.

? Brynn Harvey paced the Knights as a true freshman with 519 yards a year ago, and Ronnie Weaver amassed 348 yards on the ground as a redshirt freshman. Both are listed as the top-two backs, respectively, for the upcoming campaign. Harvey was named to the C-USA All-Freshman Team after a very strong second half of the season against C-USA foes.

? A true freshman in 2008, Rob Calabrese played in nine games and threw for 664 yards and seven touchdowns for the Knights. Now with a year of experience, plus added strength and confidence, he enters the 2009 campaign as the starting quarterback for game one vs. Samford. Behind him is Wake Forest transfer Brett Hodges and third-year sophomore Joe Weatherford. Hodges saw seven games worth of action in his Demon Deacon career while Weatherford played in three games last fall for the Knights.

? Three of the five Knights who finished 2008 as starters on the offensive line also return. Junior Jah Reid, who played right guard, and sophomore Nick Pieschel, who played left guard, both move one spot over to the tackle positions in 2009. Senior Ian Bustillo remains as the starting center.
? The newcomers on the line are set to be junior Abré Leggins at left guard and either redshirt freshman Steven Robinson or Cliff McCray. Leggins transferred from Copiah-Lincoln JC and also attended Michigan State, while Robinson (also known as "Moose") picked up a redshirt last year at UCF. McCray started the final seven games of the 2007 C-USA Championship season for UCF but was not with the team last fall.

? The combination of senior tackle Torrell Troup and junior end Bruce Miller picked up some preseason honors. Troup was named to the Outland Trophy, Rotary Lombardi Award and Bronko Nagurski Watch Lists, while Miller joined Troup on the Rotary Lombardi Award list. Both are also preseason All-C-USA picks.
? Troup posted 52 tackles including 12.5 for a loss in 2008, and Miller capped off his season with 52 tackles as well, highlighted by 17 tackles for loss and 11 quarterback hurries.

? UCF brings back almost the entire two-deep from a fearsome front seven in 2008. UCF was third in the nation in TFLs a year ago and 26th in sacks. As a whole, the Knights led C-USA in both rushing defense and passing efficiency defense while ranking second in total defense and scoring defense.
? Overall, UCF returns players from last year's front seven who accounted for 346 tackles, including 65.5 tackles for loss and 23 sacks in 2008 alone.

? While several key members of the 2007 defense missed all or most of 2008, UCF welcomes back Darius Nall who missed last year while undergoing treatments for cancer. Nall was a member of the 2007 C-USA All-Freshman Team and will see ample time this fall at DE.

? Junior outside linebacker Lawrence Young leads all returners with 72 tackles. He also collected 10.5 tackles for loss and five break-ups.

? UCF lost four seniors in the secondary (Jason Venson, Joe Burnett, Johnell Neal, Sha'reff Rashad), but have a quartet of juniors ready to step up, all of whom have previous game experience.
? At the corners are Justin Boddie (nine games in 2008, 10 tackles) and Darin Baldwin (12 games, 12 tackles, four break-ups). Meanwhile, Reggie Weams (12 games, 11 tackles) and Derrick Hallman (12 games, 58 tackles, one interception, six break-ups) are prepared to move in at the safety positions. Hallman was an honorable mention All-C-USA linebacker last fall who is returning to his more natural position in safety.