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Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN TODAY NO.48 CENTRAL FLORIDA Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN TODAY NO.48 CENTRAL FLORIDA
Today at No. 48: UCF Coach: Scott Frost (6-7, entering second season; 6-7 overall) 2016 record: 6-7, 4-4 in American Athletic Conference, finished third in East Division Look back: The only... Vincent Rizzo Sports COLLEGE FOOTBALL COUNTDOWN TODAY NO.48 CENTRAL FLORIDA

Today at No. 48: UCF

Coach: Scott Frost (6-7, entering second season; 6-7 overall)

2016 record: 6-7, 4-4 in American Athletic Conference, finished third in East Division

Look backThe only place left for the UCF football program to go was up in 2016 after going winless in 2015. New head coach Scott Frost found success, installing a new up-tempo offense and revamped defense inspired, in part, by his tenure as the offensive coordinator at Oregon.

The path to success was bumpier for the Knights’ offense, led by true freshman QB McKenzie Milton, but the defense shined and redshirt junior LB Shaquem Griffin was named the league’s defensive player of the year. Frost led UCF to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, where the team suffered a disappointing 31-13 loss to Arkansas State in Orlando.

Offensive starters returning: 9

Offensive starters lost: 2

Defensive starters returning: 4

Defensive starters lost: 7

Key losses: LB Mark Rucker, QB Justin Holman, DB Shaquill Griffin, DB Drico Johnson

Top returnees: DL Jamiyus Pittman, DL Trysten Hill, LB Shaquem Griffin, WR Tre’Quan Smith

StrengthsDefensive coordinator Erik Chinander transformed a defense that finished No. 113 nationally in 2015 into a unit that ranked No. 39 in 2016 while largely using the same group of players. Seven starters from last year’s team graduated, but the Knights return a vocal leader in Shaquem Griffin. He was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 11 sacks. Griffin also finished second on the team with 85 tackles. The entire starting defensive line also returns, with sophomore Trysten Hill switching to nose guard and seniors Jamiyus Pittman and Tony Guerad anchoring the edges of the base 3-4 defense.

UCF also returns a loaded group of talented running backs in Jawon Hamilton, Taj McGowan and Adrian Killins. They’ll be joined by newcomer Otis Anderson.

Weaknesses: Milton was thrown into the fire early as a true freshman leading UCF’s offense early after starter Justin Holman suffered a hamstring injury. The Hawaii native struggled at times as a rookie working with a battered offensive line and young skill players. Milton passed for 1,983 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Knights won’t have much depth behind Milton, entering the summer with one additional scholarship quarterback in Pete DiNovo. Frost signed two quarterbacks in the spring — Noah Vedral and Darriel Mack — who are expected to compete for immediate playing time. Vedral and Mack arrived on campus during the summer and have been working to quickly learn the nuances of the quarterback job.

While UCF will be counting on some newcomers to play early, Frost said he’s pleased with the options on both sides of the ball.

“We gotta keep building depth and getting the next freshmen class in here and they’ll obviously help with depth, too, “ Frost said. “But I think we’ll be a deeper team at most positions than we were last year.”

Outlook: If the UCF offensive line and quarterback play improve, the team could challenge rival USF for an AAC East Division title. While Frost is hoping to show off more elements of his UCFast offense, the more experienced defense will still likely play the biggest role in the team’s success.

Today at No. 48: UCF Coach: Scott Frost (6-7, entering second season; 6-7 overall) 2016 record: 6-7, 4-4 in American Athletic Conference, finished third in East Division Look back: The only place left for the UCF football program to go was up in 2016 after going winless in 2015. New head coach Scott Frost found success, installing a new up-tempo offense and revamped defense inspired, in part, by his tenure as the offensive coordinator at Oregon. The path to success was bumpier for the Knights’ offense, led by true freshman QB McKenzie Milton, but the defense shined and redshirt junior LB Shaquem Griffin was named the league’s defensive player of the year. Frost led UCF to the AutoNation Cure Bowl, where the team suffered a disappointing 31-13 loss to Arkansas State in Orlando. Offensive starters returning: 9 Offensive starters lost: 2 Defensive starters returning: 4 Defensive starters lost: 7 Key losses: LB Mark Rucker, QB Justin Holman, DB Shaquill Griffin, DB Drico Johnson Top returnees: DL Jamiyus Pittman, DL Trysten Hill, LB Shaquem Griffin, WR Tre’Quan Smith Strengths: Defensive coordinator Erik Chinander transformed a defense that finished No. 113 nationally in 2015 into a unit that ranked No. 39 in 2016 while largely using the same group of players. Seven starters from last year’s team graduated, but the Knights return a vocal leader in Shaquem Griffin. He was named the American Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year after leading the league with 11 sacks. Griffin also finished second on the team with 85 tackles. The entire starting defensive line also returns, with sophomore Trysten Hill switching to nose guard and seniors Jamiyus Pittman and Tony Guerad anchoring the edges of the base 3-4 defense. UCF also returns a loaded group of talented running backs in Jawon Hamilton, Taj McGowan and Adrian Killins. They’ll be joined by newcomer Otis Anderson. Weaknesses: Milton was thrown into the fire early as a true freshman leading UCF’s offense early after starter Justin Holman suffered a hamstring injury. The Hawaii native struggled at times as a rookie working with a battered offensive line and young skill players. Milton passed for 1,983 yards, 10 touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Knights won’t have much depth behind Milton, entering the summer with one additional scholarship quarterback in Pete DiNovo. Frost signed two quarterbacks in the spring — Noah Vedral and Darriel Mack — who are expected to compete for immediate playing time. Vedral and Mack arrived on campus during the summer and have been working to quickly learn the nuances of the quarterback job. While UCF will be counting on some newcomers to play early, Frost said he’s pleased with the options on both sides of the ball. “We gotta keep building depth and getting the next freshmen class in here and they’ll obviously help with depth, too, “ Frost said. “But I think we’ll be a deeper team at most positions than we were last year.” Outlook: If the UCF offensive line and quarterback play improve, the team could challenge rival USF for an AAC East Division title. While Frost is hoping to show off more elements of his UCFast offense, the more experienced defense will still likely play the biggest role in the team’s success.DA

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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