May 21, 2012
UCF Athletics Social Media Directory
By Joey Nelson
ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - The Knights are hoping to kick the season off right, traveling to Akron, Ohio, for a bout against the Zips on Aug. 30. UCF will face Buckeye State football programs in back-to-back weeks with a big game against Ohio State to follow Sept. 8. George O'Leary is heading into his ninth season as head coach of the Black and Gold and looks to capture the Knights' third Conference USA title before moving into the BIG EAST.
The Knights will take the field against the Zips for their eighth meeting, with Akron holding the series lead 5-2. UCF and Akron were Mid-American Conference foes from 2002 to 2004, where the Knights would eventually leave for Conference USA. Akron is coming off a 1-11 record, managing a win against the Virginia Military Institute.
Enter the 2012 season with new head coach Terry Bowden, son of former FSU head coach Bobby Bowden. Terry Bowden, 54, owns a 140-62-2 record over his span as head coach for Auburn, North Alabama, Salem and Samford. Akron's new lead guy is looking to make some serious changes to a program that has had six-straight losing seasons. "It just seemed like the place and the time that somebody could go up there, do a few things right and get a winning program going," said Bowden to the Press-Register when he took the position. "It seemed the right time to go."
Offensive Player to Watch
At 6-1, 193 pounds, Akron's leading rusher Jawon Chisholm hopes to improve on an impressive freshman debut behind an offensive line which lost both its right guard and right tackle after last year. Chisholm pounded the rock 218 times for 961 yards and five touchdowns, averaging 4.4 yards per carry. The native out of Harrisburg, Pa., possesses a raw combination of power and speed, being able to run up the gut or break it to the outside on any given play. Chisholm is a team player according to coaches and is willing to take a heavy load of the carries. "To be honest, I will carry the ball as many times as the coach says I need it. I know I'll carry my team [until] I can't carry them anymore," explained Chisholm in the Plain Dealer. "How many that is, if it's a trillion, I'll carry them."
Defensive Player to Watch
With the recent departure of league-leading tackler Brian Wagner to Arizona, the linebacking corps is trying to fill a massive hole in their defensive unit. Defensive coordinator Chuck Amato says he isn't worried but understands the difficulty of replacing such a productive, strong leader. "We're working with [guys] who can help us now and we've got a whole bunch of linebackers coming in this fall," said Amato in the Beacon Journal during an offseason practice. Look for UCF tailbacks to take advantage of a sparse defensive unit. It'll be interesting to see if Akron's veteran linebackers Justin March and Troy Gilmer will take the reins or if newly signed players will be the ones to step up.
Knight vs. Zip Matchup to Look Out For
UCF sophomore Terrance Plummer is set to take on the starting role as middle linebacker for the first time in Jim Fleming's defensive unit and coaches say Plummer looked comfortable throughout the spring season and has made great strides since his freshman year. The matchup of Plummer against Akron tailback Jawon Chisholm should be a fun one to watch. Look for Plummer's charismatic play and versatile skill sets to be key in halting Akron's rushing attack.