John Denton's Knights Insider: Seniors Say Knights Are Focused

Dec. 28, 2010

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By John Denton

MEMPHIS, Tenn. - In the days leading up to the Conference USA Championship Game three weeks ago, many of the players in UCF's senior class had a good feeling about the outcome of that game because of the fiery intensity and pinpoint focus in practice.

Now, on the verge of facing the Georgia Bulldogs in Friday's AutoZone Liberty Bowl, UCF's players are exhibiting the same sort of focus and determination to do what it takes to capture the school's first-ever bowl victory.

``I think the guys are more focused than maybe we were in the past. We saw it before the (C-USA) Championship Game and I'm seeing the same sort of preparation now, too,'' UCF senior defensive end David Williams said. ``This time last year we wanted to win our first bowl game, but I didn't see the same focus, intensity and attention to detail that we have now. We've been to three bowl games now, so we know what all goes on. This is a business trip for us. We're focused on doing the things that we need to do to win.''

No. 24 UCF (10-3) installed much of its game plan for Georgia (6-6) back in Orlando prior to the Christmas break. The team hit Memphis Monday morning and headed straight to the practice field where it worked out for approximately two hours. Head coach George O'Leary has said all season that his team is a good group with its focus and work ethic in practice and Monday and the day prior to leaving Central Florida were no different.

``We're just polishing the game plan that we've already put in,'' said O'Leary, who has the Knights in a bowl game for the fourth time. ``Any time that you travel, you wonder how the kids will react. But the kids were focused in and got a really good work out in with a lot of different segments of the game.''

The fact that the Knights are playing Georgia, a traditional Southeastern Conference powerhouse, only adds to the intrigue of the game. UCF came up just short in games against BCS-affiliated schools NC State and Kansas State earlier this season and the Knights are eager to prove that they can compete against schools from the power conferences.

Add in the fact that UCF's roster is composed of 17 players from Georgia and the Knights certainly won't be lacking for motivation heading into this game.

``There was a pretty strong buzz around my hometown about this game. I went to one of my friend's house and they're diehard Georgia fans, but they all said they would be rooting for us. So that's pretty cool,'' said tight end Adam Nissley, a native of Cumming, Ga. ``We've hit some pretty big milestones here the last couple of years, and that first bowl win would just really cap it off for us. It would project this program in the direction that we've wanted it to go in. It's on our minds that this is a big goal we've all been working toward for a lot of years.''

UCF's senior class has already left its mark on the program, winning two C-USA championships in the past four years. But what the group wants now more than anything is the first bowl victory in school history. These seniors will be playing in their third bowl in four years, and Williams thinks the Knights have the focus and talent to shock the football world and defeat the Bulldogs.

``We know with an SEC team the type of team that we're going to face in terms of ability. But we feel like with the teams that we've faced that we're used to seeing the same kind of athletes that Georgia has,'' Williams said. ``(A bowl win) would have huge future implications. We've done a lot of things already, but we've left some things unfinished. Winning a bowl game is one of them and winning one would be huge for the school.''


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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.