UCF looks to build on last season’s success

Central Florida coach George O’Leary says the Knights are not

resting on the laurels of the best football season in school

history.

The defending Conference USA champions won a program-best 11

games in 2010, capped by an eye-opening 10-6 victory over Georgia

in the Liberty Bowl.

This year’s schedule features early nonconference games at home

against Boston College and on the road at Brigham Young. Those

dates will give sophomore quarterback Jeff Godfrey greater

exposure, and winning both could thrust the entire program into the

national spotlight.

O’Leary is beginning his eighth season at UCF. He likes the

heightened expectations that come with winning the Knight’s second

conference title in four years and finishing with a bowl victory

for the first time.

”I’d rather be where we’re sitting now than where we were when

we got here,” O’Leary, who went 0-11 in his first season with the

Knights in 2004, said Friday during the team’s preseason media

day.

”I think expectation levels are higher. I think the team has to

react to that. I know the coaches do,” the coach said, adding he’d

rather have fans excited about the prospect of another conference

title and perhaps even a shot at a BCS bowl berth, rather than

entering the season ”hoping and wishing that things happen

right.”

Godfrey was one of the nation’s top dual-threat quarterbacks as

a freshman, throwing for 2,159 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushing

for 566 yards and 10 TDs after beginning the season as a reserve.

The Knights also return three running backs who ran for more than

600 yards last season, including 1,000-yard rusher Brynn

Harvey.

The tailbacks have a nose for the end zone, too, with Harvey

scoring 14 TDs rushing and Ronnie Weaver and Latavius Murray each

scoring 11 TDs.

While the Knights lost some key players from one of Conference

USA’s top defenses, O’Leary is confident he has capable

replacements. With Godfrey a year older, the coach thinks the

offense will be better, too.

The coach said one topic he discussed with players when the team

convened to begin preparation for the Sept. 3 season opener against

Charleston Southern was the need to focus on what’s ahead – not the

impressive way the Knights finished last season by winning nine of

their last 10 games.

”We need to move from that victory in the Liberty Bowl. I told

them it’s a new year, a new season and you’re going to be judged by

what’s done this year, not last year,” O’Leary said. ”But I do

think it helps from a confidence level, just that if they do things

right, good things can happen.”