Anticipation for the opening game of the 2011 season was higher this year than any other since the Knights started playing football in 1979. In 2010, the Knights were ranked in the top 25, Conference USA Champions and winners of the Liberty Bowl over SEC powerhouse Georgia.
However, this is 2011 and the team wants to improve on last year's record-breaking season.
The Knights got their first shot on Saturday against FCS Big South opponent Charleston Southern University. Though playing a lower-division foe, UCF turned in a monster performance with a 62-0 win. The Knights' first teams were pulled from the game early in the second half, but not before making some big plays.
Starting RB Ronnie Weaver took the ball downfield on four carries for 66 yards before QB Jeff Godfrey took it in for the first score. On CSU's first series, QB Malcolm Dixon couldn't get his team past the first-down marker and the team was forced to punt. On UCF's next series, Godfrey completed a pass to WR AJ Guyton for 20 yards and RB Latavius Murray also drove down the field on four carries for 28 yards and a score.
The game continued this way through the first half and into the third quarter, with RB Brynn Harvey adding 62 yards on 14 carries, Godfrey rushing for two more TDs, and Weaver and Murray each adding another score. Godfrey also added a big strike to wide-open TE Adam Nissley for 45 yards.
When Godfrey hit the sideline and QB Blake Bortles came in, the passing game got going with redshirt freshmen WRs Josh Reese and J.J. Worton. Reese added 97 yards on four receptions while Worton hauled in three receptions for 53 yards. UCF only had two drives that did not end in a score, including a 48-yard punt by David Bohner and a missed field goal by backup true freshman Shawn Moffitt, who was very consistent until then.
After fumbling a punt return and losing possession in the first half, CB Josh Robinson made up for it with a 32-yard interception return for a touchdown early in the third quarter, adding insult to injury.
By the fourth quarter, 65 of 68 roster players had seen playing time. If the Knights weren't already deep enough in their rushing attack with Weaver, Murray, Harvey and Godfrey under center, TB Kerlon Williams added an additional 25 yards on eight carries and two TDs. The Knights managed to keep the Bucs out of the red zone for most of the night. They never found the end zone and they missed their lone field goal attempt of 28 yards.
By the end of the game, UCF had 560 total yards (244 passing, 316 rushing), 25 first downs, went 14-20 between the two quarterbacks, was 67 percent on third down conversions and 100 percent on fourth-down conversions.
The Knights' only turnover was the bobbled punt in the first half. Also, the final extra point was not converted when the holder couldn't get the snap down. Other than that, it was almost a perfect game.
The Knights now turn their focus to Boston College, who is fresh off a loss to Northwestern and looking to redeem itself. Game time is 8 p.m. EDT at BHNS in Orlando. The game will be nationally televised on CBS College Sports.