Don't Worry, Be CAPPy
I have been going back and forth on this first game for a couple of weeks. There is a tendency, at least in my case, to build up that first opponent into something more than it is. Combine uncertainty with a healthy dose of concern and suddenly I'm sandbaggin' like Lou Holtz. "We suck, but those guys are awesome!"
Although a lot of people in Orlando expect the Knights to right the ship and become the kind of team that can give a BCS program a scare on the road, they are not without some inescapable--and possibly crippling--red flags.
-- They have a group of linebackers who are light on talent, speed, and experience. We will be running the football at them a lot.
-- They have an alarming number of true freshman wide receivers on the two-deep (PDF). Javid James was unimpressive during camp, while Willie Thornton has been banged up, which leaves Rocky Ross as the lone returning wide receiver guaranteed to see significant time on Saturday. That's rather less than ideal. They may sort these WR issues out as the season progresses, but I think as far as the opener goes, this is going to be the death of them.
-- Most recently, there have been questions regarding the kicking game.
Some other final preseason notes:
-- If you missed them, my now-dated overviews of the UCF offense and defense are here and here.
-- Phil Steele thinks we're 14 points better than the Knights; between that and the line for the game, I've been feeling a lot better about Saturday.
-- While the fact that several mainstream media folk think we're going to be a "surprise" team this season makes me a little uncomfortable, the statistical indicators do agree with them. There's the turnover margin and close losses. Our expected record last year based on points scored and allowed, 5-7. CAPP and SDPI. The last time our record didn't accurately reflect our performance (2004), we bounced back with a winning season. So the moral is, and I write this really for my benefit as much as anyone else's: don't worry. We are not doomed to bad luck. And that will be immediately apparent.
-- Along those lines, I think the nightmare is over. We're scoring at least 27 on UCF.