The Knights haven't played a game yet, but there are many qualities in this year's squad that remind head coach George O'Leary of one of the greatest teams in program history -- the 2010 Conference USA and Liberty Bowl Championship team.
O'Leary says one reason is the leadership ability of his seniors.
"It's very similar to 2010 where they weren't afraid to speak up - right or wrong," said O'Leary. "I do think this senior group will come in and say 'Coach, what about this or what about that.'"
The UCF head coach said the seniors are even taking charge of tasks such as dorm checks to set a good example for the underclassmen.
"I think it's a great point as far as taking charge and taking ownership of your team," said O'Leary. "That's how you get respect from your teammates and it keeps everyone on the same page."
O'Leary will look to his seniors for experience and leadership against a young Akron team on Thursday night. The Zips have a new head coach in Terry Bowden and are coming off a 1-11 season.
The Knights have won six consecutive season openers. The last opener UCF won on the read was a 25-23 win against NC State in 2007. O'Leary says having players who have been through many away games before makes him feel confident opening on the road.
"When you have a young club and they're traveling and everything is new, there can be some issues," O'Leary said. "But when you have some experienced kids that have been on the road before I think the kids understand what's supposed to happen from a format standpoint and an itinerary standpoint."
Last year, the Knights were winless on the road and dropped five of their six road games by a touchdown or less. O'Leary is using that to motivate this year's team.
"When you take the losses by seven points or less, those are games you have a chance to win and you have to finish plays," said O'Leary. "It's something to stress with the players this year and every play is an important play."
"I think the kids understand the importance of every game
and obviously the first game you always go in with a pit in your stomach,"
continued O'Leary. "Right now they're treating each game as a big game and
that's the way it should be."