John Denton's Knights Insider: News and Notes From Manhattan, Kan.

Sept. 25, 2010

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By John Denton

MANHATTAN, Kan. (UCFAthletics.com) - After studying Kansas State film for most of the past week, UCF's coaches and players are more convinced than ever that Wildcats' tailback Daniel Thomas will be playing in the NFL this time next week.

UCF linebacker Derrick Hallman predicted that Thomas, a Hilliard, Fla., native, would be the best back the Knights would face all season. And even UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe caught a glimpse of Thomas, comparing the back to Adrian Peterson.

In its history, UCF has faced 12 running backs that went on to be drafted within the first four rounds of the NFL draft. Ole Miss' Duce Staley (187 yards, three touchdowns), Texas' Jamaal Charles (153 yards), Mississippi State's J.J. Johnson (146 yards, four TDs), Memphis' DeAngelo Williams (136 yards), Nebraska's Ahman Green (113 yards) and Florida State's Warrick Dunn (100 yards, one touchdown) were the only backs to run for at least 100 yards against the Knights. East Carolina's Chris Johnson, an Orlando native, had 89 yards rushing, 89 yards receiving and a 96-yard kickoff return.

UCF limited Thomas to 76 yards on 22 carries. His longest run of the day was for 12 yards. "We kept him contained most of the game, but there's only so long that you can keep a great back like that contained,'' UCF junior defensive end Darius Nall said.


COMPETITION: In UCF head coach George O'Leary's eyes, every day of the football season is a competition. O'Leary is of the belief that by keeping the pressure of competition on players that it brings out more consistent production.

There's always competition when it comes to the kicking game at UCF, and O'Leary puts his kickers and punters through the paces each Wednesday of practice week. Shockingly, UCF senior punter Blake Clingan was beaten out last week by David Bohner.

``I love competition and this is the first time that Clingan has had some competition,'' O'Leary said. ``But I think it's great and that's what makes teams better and it will make (Clingan) better.''

Clingan had appeared in 40 games and punted 219 times over the past four seasons before getting replaced by Bohner in last week's 24-10 defeat of Buffalo. Bohner, a redshirt junior transfer from Navy, kicked six times for a 35.2 yard average last week. He had a long of 42 yards and pinned Buffalo inside the 20-yard line once.

Clingan returned as the starting punter on Saturday and had early boots of 41, 38 and 50 yards. For the day, Clingan averaged 41 yards on five punts.

Undoubtedly, O'Leary will re-open the kicking job next week after Nick Cattoi missed two field goals on Saturday. He missed a 42-yarder in the second quarter and hooked a 27-yard attempt just after halftime.

``When you get down there in the red zone you have to put the ball in the end zone,'' O'Leary said. ``But the worst was missing the field goals, especially the one in close there.''


BRYNN ALMOST BACK: UCF standout running back Brynn Harvey, who has been out of action since injuring his knee in the spring, could be close to re-joining his teammates in practice next week. Harvey, a junior, hopes to play in either the Oct. 6 home game against UAB or the Oct. 13 game at Marshall - just six months after tearing the anterior cruiciate ligament in his knee. Harvey received clearance from doctors and tested well in his strength tests, clearing the way for his gradual return.

``The doctor said I was looking really, really good and he was surprised how I was way ahead of schedule,'' Harvey said. ``My leg is stronger and very stable, so he thought I was good to go.''

Harvey, a Largo native, ran for 519 yards as a freshman and 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns last season as a sophomore.


ETC: Senior linebacker Lawrence Young, who had played in 39 games in his UCF career, didn't make the trip on Saturday after sustaining a concussion in last week's victory in Buffalo. Through three games, Young was UCF's leading tackler with 18 total stops and three tackles for a loss. Senior Chance Henderson started in place of Young. ... In a scene that you don't see every day at a college football venue, fans outside of Bill Snyder Family Stadium were allowed to milk a cow. ... Saturday was Fort Riley Day at Kansas State with 800 marching soldiers on hand from the nearby Army base. Also, two High Mobility Mounted Wheeled Vehicles were stationed near the north end zone and welcomed the teams onto the field by firing cannons. ... UCF reserve running back Ronnie Weaver, who had two touchdowns in last week's win in Buffalo, is a big believer in Yoga and has tried to recruit some of his teammates to practice the exercises. Said Weaver, who earned his first start of the season: ``In football you're always getting tight or tweaking muscles, but the stretching in Yoga helps me relax and stay loose. And the breathing techniques are helpful, too. I've tried to spread the word to my teammates because (the Yoga exercises) have helped me so much.''

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John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.