Position battles pose a challenge for O’Leary
Published: Sunday, August 14, 2011
Updated: Sunday, August 14, 2011 17:08
As the season approaches, Knights head coach George O'Leary must make important decisions. Decisions on offense, defense and special teams as to who will be named the starter at their respective positions.
The Central Florida Future analyzed the Knights' key position battles entering the season and looked at the Knights' options on the field.
O'Leary is not in a bad predicament. UCF is stacked at running back with Brynn Harvey, Latavius Murray and Ronnie Weaver. All three backs have NFL potential and bring something different to the table. O'Leary has not named a clear-cut starter, however, and has mentioned that he will play the hot hand throughout the season.
Prediction: Murray gained a lot of momentum towards the end of last season and will likely carry into this season as the starter. Harvey looks to be 100 percent back from last year's knee injury and should be ready to go, but it may take him a few games to get up to speed.
There's another three-headed monster on the Knights and it's at defensive end. The Knights are looking for a new standout defensive lineman with the absence of Bruce Miller. Darius Nall, who O'Leary calls the Knights' most underrated player, can provide senior leadership that the Knights need. Troy Davis has had a very impressive offseason. The Knights also landed impressive an impressive recruit in Toby Jackson, who dominated at the JUCO level.
Prediction: O'Leary will likely start Davis and Jackson and bring Nall in on specialty blitz packages. Nall, despite not starting, had 8.5 sacks last season.
UCF is a little thin at outside linebacker, but there's hope for two position-change players: Jonathan Davis and Ray Shipman. Shipman is a former UF basketball player and Davis received several snaps at running back the last two seasons. Options at outside linebacker also include Terran Buck, Ray Cottman and Loren Robinson.
Prediction: Shipman and Robinson have already gotten the starting nod from O'Leary, but Buck, Cottman and Davis will be brought in for different packages. Davis, who played safety in high school, could be a good option to drop back in coverage.
Kicker was probably the weakest position on last years Knights football team. O'Leary has continually mentioned that Nick Cattoi, last year's starting kicker, will be benched in favor for Jamie Boyle if he doesn't see progress in him. Cattoi connected on 57.9 percent of field goal attempts and missed three extra points last season.
Prediction: Although Cattoi was listed as the starter in the spring, Boyle may get a shot. The Knights may even use two kickers throughout the season, playing the hot hand, or in this case, foot.