Marc Daniels' From the Press Box: Two Big Keys to UCF's Success this Season

Aug. 9, 2010

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By Marc Daniels

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Together they will combine for no touchdowns, no yards rushing or receiving and when you hear their numbers announced inside a stadium, it is not for something good. It means they made a mistake. Yet, if UCF is to have a big year, they are two of the most critical pieces on a team with big expectations.

Offensive tackles Jah Reid and Nick Pieschel are nearly a combined 14-feet tall and 625 pounds (let's see Dwight Howard dunk over that). Much attention on UCF's offense is centered on the quarterback play of Rob Calabrese and newcomer Jeffrey Godfrey, but a quarterback is only as good as the offensive line protects and blocks.

Offensive linemen get little attention. We tend to praise the running back for the 80-yard run or the quarterback who fires a 70-yard pass, but none of it happens without the "big uglies" doing their work. And doing their work is something Reid and Pieschel do well.

Reid earned All-Conference USA honors last season and is a preseason choice to repeat at right tackle. Pieschel started 11 games last season and could join Reid on an all-conference list this season for his job at left tackle.

Reid arrived at UCF as a big kid that played football. Today he's a football player that's big. "I've grown a lot and learned a lot over my years at UCF," said Reid. "But without my teammates on the line, I can't do my job."

When Reid came to UCF he was a big body coaches hoped they could mold into a dominant blocker and become a force on the line. Mission accomplished. He is a great example of the progression a college player goes through. And like his fellow seniors, Reid has goals for this season. "We know the type of team we can be," said Reid. "But it takes everyone working together to be a special team and we believe we can have a special season."

Opposite Reid on UCF's line sits Pieschel. The redshirt junior came to UCF from high school power St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. Entering his third year as a starter, Pieschel solidifies the important left tackle spot. Like his linemate Reid, Pieschel knows no one man can make an offensive line. "We all understand that everyone has their job to do but we all rely on everyone to get the job done," he said.

With George O'Leary already stating both Calabrese and Godfrey will see time, how does the line handle working with more than one quarterback? "Each player brings something different," Pieschel said. "It's our job to make their job easier by blocking and executing."

While Reid and Pieschel are veterans of the line, the Knights have depth like they have not had in recent years. O'Leary has stated incoming freshmen like Torrian Wilson and the McCray twins, Jordan and Justin, give UCF a solid base of lineman that could help this season.

UCF's line will be key for many reasons. Aside from using multiple quarterbacks, the Knights will use several running backs at the start of the season with Brynn Harvey working his way back from injury. And O'Leary has always been committed to running the ball and controlling the clock (see the Houston game last season). But protecting the quarterback is as critical as run blocking for UCF. Giving Calabrese time to sit in the pocket and look downfield is important. Being able to give Godfrey sight lines and corners to get to for his speed are also vital for the success of the offense.

That's why guys like Reid and Pieschel are "big" keys for UCF. Both have become anchors of the line. Both have ability to play at the next level. Both know they don't need to run, catch or throw the ball. They just need to make it easier for the players to run, catch and throw the ball.

Knights notes and more: I asked George O'Leary, during his media day press conference, what college football would be like if there were no polls. O'Leary, who votes in the coaches poll, suggested a top 10 to start the season. "I think 10 is a good number to rank teams at the beginning of the year. Then after the first games in October you could rank 25 teams. But there's no question if you are not in the poll to start the year, it's very difficult to work your way up." My point about polls is that we have become brainwashed. We think that if someone has a 24 to the left of their school name on a television scoreboard scroll that they are a better team than the school without the number next to their name. Says who? Coaches working 100 hours a week on their own team? Members of the media that have likely not seen most of the teams play who they rank?...We had some players record some of their bio information to be used on radio broadcasts this season. Best voice: Jamar Newsome. Best one-take performance: Jah Reid. Best use of his name in third person: The Derrick Hallman... Final thought: Yes, it's true that the hood of my car was dented from an errant punt on the first day of practice. It doesn't matter who punted the ball. But it did remind me of a story O'Leary told from his first season at UCF when a punter struggled in practice when coach was standing close and watching. When O'Leary asked the punter what was the problem, the punter said, "Coach I get nervous when you are watching me punt." In which O'Leary responded, "Son, you are aware I attend all the games?"

Marc Daniels' From the Press Box runs several times per month on UCFAthletics.com. Listen to Marc during UCF football, men's basketball and baseball radio broadcasts on the UCF-ISP Sports Network. Each weekday, Marc hosts "The Beat of Sports" on ESPN 1080 in Orlando from 9-11 a.m.