Sept. 7, 2009
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - After posting a season-opening victory over Samford Sept. 5, UCF gets right into Conference USA action this Saturday when it travels to Hattiesburg to face Southern Miss at 7 p.m. This will be the earliest the Knights have ever opened a league schedule, beating their Sept. 20, 2002, MAC debut against Marshall.
THE OPENING DRIVE
? In the season opener, UCF set an FBS era (since 1996) school record with 289 total special teams yards against Samford, gaining 190 on kickoff returns and 99 more on punt returns.
? UCF gained 571 yards of combined total offense and special teams yardage against Samford, its best output since the 2007 regular season finale against UTEP, 103 yards better than its top game in 2008, and the fourth-best all-time for UCF at BHNS.
? Last week, Brynn Harvey became just the second Knight to rush for over 100 yards on opening day in the FBS era joining the 217 by Kevin Smith in the 2007 win at NC State.
? Lawrence Young's three TFLs vs. Samford tied for fifth in the nation in week one. UCF's nine overall tied for 14th nationally.
? Quincy McDuffie's 95-yard kickoff return for a touchdown vs. Samford was the sixth-longest in school history.
? Six of UCF's 12 all-time kickoff return touchdowns have been by freshmen. McDuffie's was the first in a collegiate debut.
? UCF joins Arkansas, Clemson and Texas as the only schools in the nation to have returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
? In his UCF debut last week, Wake Forest transfer quarterback Brett Hodges came off of the bench to complete 10-of-17 passes and the game-winning touchdown in the fourth quarter.
? After missing almost all of the 2008 season, Rocky Ross was again UCF's top receiver vs. Samford with a team-high five catches and 85 yards. He had 176 all-purpose yards on the night.
? The Knights are 2-2 all-time in C-USA openers. UCF also opened its 2006 C-USA slate against USM, losing 19-14.
? UCF is 1-3 all-time against Southern Miss, with the lone win coming on Oct. 28, 2007, in Hattiesburg.
UCF MOVES BALL ALL NIGHT VS. SAMFORD
? UCF moved the ball better than it has since 2007 on opening night against Samford, gaining 571 yards of combined total offense and special teams yardage. It is UCF's best total since the 2007 regular season finale vs. UTEP and the fourth best sum for the Knights ever at Bright House Networks Stadium. It was over 100 yards better than UCF's best effort in 2008 (468 yards vs. USF in overtime).
ALL-TIME MOST TOTAL OFFENSE+SPECIAL TEAMS YARDAGE BY UCF AT BHNS
1. 711 yards vs. Memphis, 9/22/07
2. 621 yards vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 9/29/07
3. 576 yards vs. UTEP, 11/24/07
4. 571 yards vs. Samford, 9/5/09
UCF VS. SOUTHERN MISS
? Southern Miss leads the overall series 3-1, one which started in 2005 when UCF joined C-USA. UCF's lone win was in 2007 in Hattiesburg behind 175 rushing yards and two TDs by Kevin Smith. UCF is 1-1 in Hattiesburg and 0-2 in Orlando against the Golden Eagles.
NEW COACHING STAFF MEMBERS
? 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 with 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, a graduate assistant from 1992-93 and a standout receiver for UCF during the 1987-90 seasons.
WELCOME BACK, AND STILL YOUNG
? 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.
? The 2010 team will have a lot of returning starters as well. UCF started just six seniors against Samford on opening night.
NOT A LOT LOST FROM 2008
? UCF returns 10 starters and the majority of its offensive production from 2008.
Rushing Leaders (100% returns)
Brynn Harvey - 125 ATT, 519 YDS, 1 TD
Ronnie Weaver - 102 ATT, 348 YDS, 2 TD
Receiving Leaders (99.6% returns)
Brian Watters - 42 REC, 594 YDS, 3 TD
Kamar Aiken - 20 REC, 244 YDS, 1 TD
Khymest Williams - 17 REC, 114 YDS, 3 TD
The only player lost from 2008 was wide receiver Sidney Haynes (3 REC, 10 YDS, 0 TD).
WIN WITH BRYNN
? Sophomore Brynn Harvey ran for 111 yards and two scores in UCF's season-opening win over Samford. It was just the second time in the FBS era (since 1996) that a Knight eclipsed the century mark on opening day. Kevin Smith (who coincidentally attended the Samford game) ran for 217 in a 2007 win at NC State. It was Harvey's second career 100-yard effort, joining his 150 at Marshall last year, and his first career two-TD performance.
? Wide receiver Rocky Ross enters his second senior year after earning a medical redshirt in 2008 due to a broken collar bone suffered at UTEP. As a junior, Ross led the Knights with 50 receptions and 658 yards for an average of 47.0 yards per game. He started 2009 where he left off, leading UCF with five catches and 85 receiving yards against Samford. He gained 176 all-purpose yards on the day.
? 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 was UCF's opening day starting quarterback. Behind him is Wake Forest transfer Brett Hodges. Hodges saw seven games worth of action in his Demon Deacon career. Both saw action in the win vs. Samford.
? 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 at center.
? The newcomers on the line are 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 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.
ALREADY RECEIVING RESPECT
? 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.
FRONT SEVEN INTACT
? 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. UCF started the 2009 season right where it left off with nine TFLs vs. Samford, ranking 14th nationally for week one.
? 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.
YOUNG GETTING WISER
? Junior outside linebacker Lawrence Young leads all returners with 72 tackles. He also collected 10.5 tackles for loss and five break-ups. His three TFLs in week one tied him for fifth in the nation.
NALL ALL-IN AGAIN
? 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.
SENIORS REPLACED BY JUNIORS
? UCF lost four seniors in the secondary (Jason Venson, Joe Burnett, Johnell Neal, Sha'reff Rashad), but a quartet of juniors are stepping 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.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
UCF SETS RECORD VS. SAMFORD
? UCF had a combined 289 yards of special teams yardage vs. Samford (190 kickoff returns, 99 punt returns). This is a FBS-era (since 1996) school record eclipsing the 281 yards (240/41) that UCF had against East Carolina in 2007.
McDUFFIE'S: I'M LOVIN IT
? True freshman Quincy McDuffie had an auspicious debut for the Knights against Samford. The Orlando native ran a kickoff back 95 yards for a touchdown. It was the sixth-longest return in school history. Curiously, of UCF's 12 all-time kickoff return touchdowns, six have been by freshmen. McDuffie's was the first in a season-opener.
THREE YEARS IN A ROW
? With McDuffie's kickoff return touchdown, UCF has now returned a kickoff for a touchdown in three consecutive seasons for the first time in school history. Joe Burnett ran back kickoffs for scores against USF and Miami last year. In 2007, Curtis Francis had one against East Carolina and Khymest Williams also had one against SMU.
UCF IS ONE OF FOUR
? UCF, Arkansas, Clemson and Texas are the only teams in the nation that have returned at least one kickoff for a touchdown in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 seasons.
BALDWIN BALLING TOO
? Overshadowed by McDuffie's touchdown, Darin Baldwin also had a 72-yard kickoff return against Samford. It was the 10th-longest in the nation last week.
NOT A ROCKY DEBUT
? Rocky Ross saw his first career action as a punt returner against Samford and averaged 15.17 yards per return, gaining 91 on six tries with a long of 39. The sum ranks 15th in the nation and second in C-USA. His six total returns led the nation on opening weekend.