For this week’s views from enemy lines we travel down south to Florida… No we didn’t ask Mike Bianchi any questions. We did stay with the Orlando Sentinel though, and their UCF writer Iliana Limon. Check out Iliana’s answers as she gives us some insight on UCF’s program, and take a listen to her visit with our BBN bros at The Empire.
1. How does George O’Leary like to attack his opponents offensively? Is he primarily a ground guy, air guy, or is he more flexible depending on the defense?
UCF coach George O’Leary definitely prefers to use a tough rushing attack to establish pass plays. He believes in ball-control offense, which tends to set up his defense for success when his offense performs well.
2. We’ve seen UCF oscillate between good seasons and mediocre/bad ones on about a three year cycle since O’Leary arrived. Do you see that continuing into the future? How do you envision the future of the program under O’Leary?
Like all coaches, O’Leary aspires to win on a consistent basis. The key to his success is sustaining depth. He has struggled to string together back-to-back strong senior classes, who are expected to be the leaders of his program. When reserves don’t see early playing time and have other options, they tend to leave UCF and erase key components of what will one day be a senior class. It appears the program is finally starting to turn a corner with some well spaced out classes that could provide consistent leadership year after year.
3. What type of defense does UCF employ? Do you think it will be up to the task of facing Urban Meyer’s offense, albeit imperfectly run?
UCF runs a multiple or 4-3 defense. The Knights prefer to get pressure on the quarterback without blitzing. The emphasis is on playing assignment-sound football and being as disruptive as possible. It’s hard to say how successful UCF’s defense will be against Ohio State. The Knights have great depth and talent, but some fundamental mistakes — including poor tackling form — popped up last week against Akron and could be a much bigger headache for the Knights at Ohio State.
4. With Latavius Murray possibly out for the game, do you think the Knights change their offensive philosophy at all?
Murray will not play due to a shoulder injury. UCF enter the 2012 season with tremendous depth at running back. Miami transfer Storm Johnson will step into the starting role and is a dynamic athlete capable of doing big things. Johnson is one of the three rushing threats the Knights can lean on at Ohio State. I would not expect any sort of change in offensive philosophy, which will likely be 60 percent run, 40 percent pass.
4. Thoughts on the George O’Leary tenure thus far?
He’s had extreme highs and lows throughout his tenure. Despite all the criticism, he is the person who helped raise the funds to build an on-campus stadium and led UCF to its first bowl victory.
5. This is the “battle of the bowl bans”- how have UCF fans responded to the NCAA sanctions, in terms of their support for the program?
UCF is appealing the bowl ban, which means the Knights are currently still eligible to compete for a Conference USA title and a bowl bid. As a result, the UCF players and coaches are operating as though those goals are still very much attainable.
6. What did you learn about the team from the victory over Akron?
The team has tremendous depth and talent. We won’t know much more until UCF plays tougher competition.
7. UCF is set to join the Big East next year. What are the UCF fans’ thoughts of this move?
They’re happy about it. This has been a long and difficult process for UCF. The Knights are eager to join the Big East and face off regularly against rival USF.
Again, a huge “thank you!” to Iliana Limon from the Orlando Sentinel for taking time out of her busy schedule to answer our questions.