As I prepare for tomorrow's BTBS preview, I thought it would be useful to go through UCF's depth chart and share some important tidbits.
Entering the 2011 season, it seemed as if UCF's quarterback situation was settled for the near future. Jeff Godfrey led UCF to a bowl game as a freshman in 2010, but his development stalled a bit as a sophomore; meanwhile, then-freshman Blake Bortles completed 68 percent of his passes and averaged 7.7 yards per pass attempt, and his playing time increased as the season went on. The offseason was a bit wacky -- Tyler Gabbert came in, Godfrey quite the team, and then Godfrey rejoined the team as a wideout. Bortles, meanwhile, has given George O'Leary little reason to replace him with Gabbert. The now-sophomore is completing 67 percent of his passes for 223 yards per game, though he has managed to throw five picks in three games. He is in no way a run threat (unlike the last two QBs Mizzou has faced), which is nice, but Mizzou will have to get in his face and force mistakes. Given time, he will do very good things with the ball.
UCF is loaded at running back. Murray rushed 14 times for 108 yards versus Akron (he has missed the last two games), and Johnson, a four-star Miami transfer, gained 97 yards in 17 touches versus Ohio State. Brynn Harvey has started 23 games in his career, but he is relegated to third-string behind this duo.
J.J. Worton (6'2, 201, So.)
Jeff Godfrey (5'11, 182, Jr.)
Josh Reese (6'1, 176, So.)
TE: Justin Tukes (6'5, 246, So.)
Chris Martin (6'5, 294, Jr.)
HB: Dontravius Floyd (6'2, 237, Jr.)
Brendan Kelly (6'3, 235, Sr.)
Bortles doesn't really have a go-to receiver in this bunch, but he has a nice foursome from which to choose. Worton has been his most frequent target thus far; he caught seven of nine passes for 96 yards versus Ohio State and five of nine for 94 yards and a touchdown versus FIU. Hall, meanwhile, caught four of four for 94 yards versus Akron, McDuffie has caught nine of 13 passes for 104 yards thus far, and Godfrey began to emerge as an interesting weapon against FIU in Week 3: he caught three of four passes for 26 yards and carried twice for 19. Throw in Reese, a four-star sophomore with just one reception so far, and some occasional dump-offs to the running backs, and you've got a lot to prepare for here. Worton, McDuffie and Storm Johnson are the three most frequent targets on standard downs, while Hall, Worton and McDuffie are basically co-No. 1's on passing downs.
Again, getting pressure on Bortles will be key. Mizzou's secondary is not incredibly deep, and UCF has quite a few similarly-talented weapons.
LT: Torrian Wilson (6'4, 306, So.)
Michael Campbell (6'6, 265, Fr.)
RT: Justin McCray (6'4, 309, Jr.)
Phil Smith (6'5, 292, Sr.)
UCF's tackles are pretty inexperienced (Wilson, a four-star sophomore, and Justin McCray had just nine career starts when the season began), and considering the defensive line is a Mizzou strength, this might be good news. Bortles makes quite a few quick passes on standard downs, and UCF ranks 30th in Standard Downs Sack Rate because of it; but on passing downs, their 7.3 percent sack rate ranks just 86th.
The interior of UCF entered the season with quite a bit of experience (52 career starts among Goins, Rae and Jordan McCray), but UCF ranked just 56th in Adj. Line Yards last year and comes in at just 70th in raw Line Yards so far this year. If Mizzou is to win this game, it must take complete advantage of this matchup, probably the most favorable Mizzou has.
Troy Davis (6'2, 249, Sr.)
Cam Henderson (6'5, 245, Sr.)
Troy Davis is the man to watch here. The former two-star recruit has logged 10.5 tackles, four tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, two quarterback hurries, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery so far this year and is a potential All-CUSA performer. He had two tackles for loss each against Ohio State and FIU. Meanwhile, the other four ends on this list have combined for 4.5 tackles for loss.
Wonderfully-named Jose Jose appears to be your typical space-eater. He has started two games this year and has yet to actually log a tackle, but he is absolutely enormous. His job is pretty clearly to eat up blockers for other defenders, but UCF might need him to make a few plays as well. UCF ranks just 106th in Rushing S&P, 64th in Line Yards Per Carry allowed and 62nd in Sack Rate. E.J. Dunston is solid (6.5 tackles, 2.5 for loss), and Thomas Niles appears active (if small), with 0.5 tackles and two quarterback hurries against FIU in Week 3, but this unit could probably use some improvement. If the Mizzou offensive line can fight the UCF defensive line to a draw, we know that could be an enormous victory for the Tigers. Despite decent upside, this is probably the least impressive line Mizzou has faced since SE Louisiana. Take advantage. Please.
OLB: Jonathan Davis (5'9, 202, Sr.)
Troy Gray (6'1, 207, So.)
Plummer is your requisite tackling machine, probably benefiting from Jose's presence more than anybody. He had 10.5 tackles (one for loss) versus Ohio State and 9.0 (with a tackle for loss, fumble recovery and quarterback hurry) versus FIU. Davis and Shipman, meanwhile, are not used particularly aggressively: they have combined for just 0.5 tackles for loss and two passes defended in three games.
A.J. Bouye (6'0, 186, Sr.)
Jacoby Green (6'1, 170, Fr.)
UCF's defense gets better the further back you go. Despite a mediocre pass rush (outside of Davis), UCF ranks 16th in Passing S&P, in part because of an active, aggressive set of cornerbacks. Bouye, Ozerities and Alexander have combined for two tackles for loss, one pick and three passes broken up thus far -- Alexander had 1.5 tackles, one tackle for loss, two passes broken up and a quarterback hurry against FIU. It is vital that Mizzou run the ball well because in must-pass situations, UCF probably has the advantage.
Geathers and Ishmael are the mess cleaners -- they haven't made many disruptive plays (combined: 0.5 tackles for loss, one pass broken up, two fumble recoveries), but they have logged 34.0 tackles in three games; Ishmael is UCF's No. 2 tackler (behind Plummer), Geathers No. 5 (behind Shipman and Bouye).
K: Shawn Moffitt (6'0, 176, So.)
P: Jamie Boyle (5'10, 194, Sr.)
LS: Scott Teal (6'2, 231, So.)
H: Rob Calabrese (6'2, 216, Sr.)
KR: Quincy McDuffie (5'10, 178, Sr.)
Rannell Hall (6'2, 191, So.)
PR: J.J. Worton (6'2, 201, So.)
Jeff Godfrey (5'11, 182, Jr.)
Moffitt hasn't been asked to do much -- he's 12-for-13 on PATs and has made two sub-30 yard field goals -- but Boyle has spurred UCF to a strong net punting average of 40.1 yards, and as scary as it is to say this, J.J. Worton is a pretty damn strong punt returner: eight returns for a 16.0 average.