UCF's Offseason Moves Could Mean Big Win for Program

NCorrespondent IAugust 28, 2009

ORLANDO, FL - OCTOBER 20: Nike footballs line up for warmups as the University of Central Florida Golden Knights host the Tulsa Golden Hurricane at Bright House Stadium on October 20, 2007 in Orlando, Florida.  UCF won 44 - 23. (Photo by Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Knights are right on the edge. Right on the cusp. Right on the brink of becoming an even bigger player in the football-crazy state of Florida.  The fast-approaching 2009 season is THE season.

After an offseason of playing fourth fiddle to the Gators, ‘Noles and Bulls, the Knights are facing a do or die year. A good season can mean a bright future for the program. A bad one forces them back to the starting line, forced to reboot and rebuild.

There’s a lot at stake for the Knights, who won only four games in 2008. They have two huge games on the 2009 schedule—a home game against Miami and a road game against Texas. After two years of coming mere possessions from recording the biggest upset in program history, it’s time to finally close out a game against a big-time opponent.

In 2007, the Knights fell to the Longhorns 35-32. In 2008, they were a touchdown away from topping the Hurricanes. This year, they have both teams on their schedule and they must win at least one of these games. Texas will be tough—they will likely be ranked among the top five teams in the country when UCF arrives in Austin.

A win in Texas Memorial Stadium would be great; in football, nothing is impossible. However, a win at home against Miami is much more plausible.

Coach George O’Leary made the right moves in the offseason and has put his team in a position to pull off the upset. O’Leary replaced offensive coordinator Tim Salem with Charlie Taaffe in January. Under Salem’s direction, the Knights’ offense was ranked 119th of 119 BCS teams. Taaffe brings BCS success to the table.

He was, after all, the offensive coordinator when the Maryland Terrapins won the ACC in 2001.

A win against Miami is within grasp. The team will return 20 starters with at least a year of experience under their belts and have two experienced quarterbacks to choose from. If the team with the worst offense in the country can come within one possession of a BCS conference team, who knows what they will be capable of this year when the ‘Canes come to town.

The fans are ready for a big win. The city of Orlando is ready to embrace this team. Are the Knights ready to finally get the monumental victory they’ve been flirting with since 2007?

Absolutely. And they’ll prove it Oct. 17.

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