WR Tavaris Capers

2003 Statistics

Coach: George O'Leary
1st year
2003 Record: 3-9
at Virginia Tech LOST 28-49
at Syracuse LOST 14-38
at Kent State LOST 16-36
at Ohio LOST 0-28
at Akron LOST 24-38
at West Virginia LOST 18-36
at Eastern Michigan LOST 13-19

2003 Final Rankings
AP-UR, Coaches-UR, BCS-UR

2004 Outlook

Considering the talent on this roster, the right mindset could translate to immediate success. That outlook could be halted, however, by a brutal non-conference schedule. Road trips to Wisconsin and Penn State, and a home tilt with West Virginia will test the resolve of the team right out of the gate. Win one, it's a triumph. Win two, you're a Cinderella. But lose all three (the most likely scenario), and that conference schedule suddenly becomes more daunting. Northern Illinois and Marshall will truly test them. But also expect a few of the lesser conference foes (with strong running games) to upset them. The daunting nature of their kind of slate usually helps most squads prosper by season's second half - once those 18-22 year olds see their meddle tested, potential can then be soon reached.

O'Leary will bring an attitude and swagger to UCF, an approach that was lacking in '03. O'Leary was a terrific hire for UCF and will produce results. Whether or not that happens this year will depend on three things: the team's recovery from their non-conference backhand; the progression of Moffett; and the performances of both lines. Those three roadblocks stand between UCF and a run at any national achievement. Also suspect is/was UCF's inability to start strong - they scored only 19 first quarter points in 2003! Despite those questions, it is realistic to expect the Knights to challenge for a winning season and make a run in MAC East. O'Leary is one of the best coaches in football; he won't accept anything less.

Projected 2004 record: 4-7
SS Atari Bigby
QB - 2 DL - 2
RB - 2.5 LB - 2.5
WR - 3 DB - 3.5
OL - 2 ..

Passing: Jon Rivera, 75-33-2, 475 yds., 1 TD

Rushing: Alex Haynes, 183 att., 774 yds., 5 TD

Receiving: Tavaris Capers, 67 rec., 585 yds., 7 TD

Scoring: Matt Prater, 10-13 FG, 23-24 PAT, 53 pts.

Punting: Matt Prater, 58 punts, 47.9 avg.

Kicking: Matt Prater, 10-13 FG, 23-24 PAT, 53 pts.

Tackles: Peter Sands, 113 tot., 70 solo

Sacks: Paul Carrington, Frisner Nelson, Josh Stephens - 2 sacks each

Interceptions: Peter Sands, 2 for 16 yds.

Kickoff returns: Luther Huggins, 26 ret., 25.1 avg., 0 TD

Punt returns: Tavaris Capers, 17 ret., 7.8 avg., 1 TD


OFFENSE: Ryan Schneider-QB, David Ashkinaz-OG, Kyle Watkins-OT, Dee Brown-FB (baseball)
DEFENSE: Brent Bolar-DE, Larry Brown-DT, DeMarcus Johnson-DE, Antoine Poe-WLB (injury), Omar Laurence-CB, Craig Harvey-MLB

Sophomore Steven Moffett is an unproven performer, but a talented athlete. At 6'3" and with 4.6-speed, he is prototypical. His skills are viable and multi-fold, his play on the field smooth and fluid. That said, Moffett has yet to play any meaningful minutes and will undoubtedly endure the growing pains every young signal caller must go through. Given time, he should be a tremendous player. If Moffett stumbles out of the gate; however, the coaches won't hesitate to use experienced senior Jon Rivera. Rivera is another dual threat who will make this unit stronger, even if just by being there for Moffett.

Running Back
UCF was one of only a few teams nationally to average less than one hundred yards rushing per game. Some of that can be attributed to scheme, but not most. Production was putrid, inconsistent, and, in many games, non-existent. A major emphasis was placed on the ground game in spring practice, an effort that will pay dividends down the road. Returning starter Alex Haynes has the potential to be a solid feature back. He rushed for 774 yards last season, but has struggled to show big-play ability. He will be challenged by sophomore Dontavius Wilcox. Blocking back Dee Brown quit the team in June to concentrate on baseball. The RBs are tremendous receivers out of the backfield, but there must be more here for this unit to be something upon which the team can rely to help it win, not lose.

The Golden Knights are talented, deep and experienced - they return four players who totaled 20 or more receptions or more in '03. Leading the way are senior starters Tavaris Capers and Luther Huggins. Capers is an excellent underneath receiver, who is the number one option on short and mid-range passing routes. He is undersized (at 5'8"), but is quick enough to break free. He also has a knack for the endzone. Huggins has a similar build to Capers, but enough speed to stretch the field more regularly. Mike Walker is one of the best deep threats in the MAC. Depth abounds, too. This is possibly the best WR unit in the conference.

Tight End
Tight end Darcy Johnson has good size and is an athletic option who will find himself in favorable situations with the receivers demanding so much attention. He has been a proven go-to target, even as a deep threat and in scoring situations. Might the team be better served, though, if he stayed home to run-block more?

Offensive Line
This bunch needs to improve in many facets, especially in their run blocking. The Knights finished ranked 101st in the nation for total offense. With such talent at the skill positions, that type of production is baffling. Youth can be blamed for much of their struggles, as numerous freshmen were forced into action. Those confused newcomers now have a year of experience to their credit, meaning a more confident and comfortable front line. As many as four sophomore starters could make up the group once again, but the youngsters will be game tested and tackle Larry Peoples, center Cedric Gagne-Marcoux and guard Dan Veenstra are each returning starters. Based on that fact alone, some progress will be made. But any real success won't be seen until you see opponents forced to consistently commit an extra helmet to the line.

Moffett is inexperienced, but has the plus of being coached by offensive guru George O'Leary. The former Tech head coach thrives at adapting play calling and formations to the strengths of his players. He has to fix a 30% third-down conversion rate that gave the UCF the ball for only 27+ minutes per tilt. Look for the Knights to show numerous looks and formations and take advantage of their athleticism by rolling out Moffett and using multi-receiver sets. That said, a concerted effort will be made to run the football. With a new coach and new quarterback, the offense should be a jumbled mess early on. By mid-season, it could be a finer-tuned machine.


TB Alex Haynes


Returning Starters in bold
QB Steven Moffett-So (6-3, 200) Jon Rivera-Sr (6-3, 190)
FB Evandall Williams-So (6-1, 220) ..
TB Alex Haynes-Sr (5-11, 220) Dontavius Wilcox-So (5-11, 205)
WR Luther Huggins-Jr (5-11, 180) Brooks Turner-So (6-0, 195)
WR Tavaris Capers-Sr (5-9, 165) Brandon Marshall-Jr (6-5, 210)
TE Darcy Johnson-Jr (6-6, 245) Harvey Joiner-Sr (6-3, 275)
OT Larry Peoples-Fr (6-6, 280) Seth Ulsh-So (6-4, 300)
OG Adam Butcher-Jr (6-3, 300) Adam Toeniskoetter-Jr (6-5, 295)
C Cedric Gagne-Marcoux-So (6-3, 290) Aaron Bern-Fr (6-4, 290)
OG Dan Veenstra-So (6-5, 310) Brad Williams-Fr (6-6, 270)
OT Sean Gilhuly-So (6-5, 310) ..
K Matt Prater-Jr (5-11, 175) ..



Defensive Line
The defensive front is a major area of concern. The line got relatively no pressure on opposing quarterbacks last time around, a fault that consistently cost the entire defense. Run stopping was suspect - opponents marched all over the Knights (at a 190-yard per game clip to rank 93rd nationally). More productivity is needed from returnees Paul Carrington and Frisner Nelson. New starters Ben Brinson and Trenton Jordan must step up as well. Three (of the four) starters are upperclassmen, with the fourth being a returning regular in Nelson. If they don't show signs of improvement early, expect a youth movement along the front line. The five incoming freshman will be given a chance to play early.

This unit is athletic, but it can be overwhelmed. These guys struggled mightily at containing the run. In addition, they also lost Antoine Poe, a defensive leader, to a career ending injury. Gerren Bray and Stanford Rhule are returning senior starters who will provide leadership, but a pure playmaker needs to emerge. Sophomore Tywin Kalandyk can fit that bill. Four (of the top six) players in the rotation will be either juniors or seniors. That experience will translate to on-field savvy, meaning better decision-making through keener awareness and instincts. That said, they need a more physical approach.

Defensive Back
The UCF secondary is the strength of the defense, but even this area has a few questions of its own. While the squad as a whole is sound, they both bent and broke too often at critical times. How else do we explain their 45th ranking for pass defense but a 109th pass-efficiency ranking? First off, the entire defensive backfield combined for merely two interceptions in 2003. Free safety Peter Sands is the team's best playmaker has no real weaknesses in his game. He and fellow senior Atari Bigby's leadership will be key. Bigby is a two-time All-MAC safety with NFL skills who is, too, poised for a big final season. Ron Ellis is an emerging, but young, talent at corner and will be joined by Rovel Hamilton, a Maryland-transfer who also needs some work. With three senior starters and two of the conference's best players roaming free, this unit should only improve. It will be up to the front-seven to define how often the DBs help will be needed in other areas.

On paper, the defense looks like it will be better. Many key contributors return, and six seniors are slotted as starters. The secondary could be great, but the front-seven will have to mature for the entire unit to reach its potential. If the Golden Knights continue to struggle at rushing the passer, it will become more and more difficult for Bigby, Sands and the corners to make plays. Accordingly, the run-defense stands as the team's Achilles Heel. Look for O'Leary and his staff to jolt the lineup if the problem persists. UCF has to allow less points in the first and fourth, or teams will continue to either start or finish strong, which obviously translates in the W&L columns.


FS Peter Sands


Returning Starters in bold
DE Paul Carrington-Jr (6-6, 250) Josh Stephens-Sr (6-2, 242)
DT Frisner Nelson-So (6-2, 295) Dennis King-Fr (6-3, 220)
DT Ben Brinson-Jr (6-5, 270) Marcus Hubbard-Fr (6-3, 265)
DE Trenton Jordan-Sr (6-4, 230) Chris Welsh-So (6-6, 250)
SLB Gerren Bray-Sr (6-0, 220) James Cook-Jr (6-4, 210)
MLB Stanford Rhule-Sr (5-10, 220) Brian Goins-Fr (6-0, 220)
WLB Lemec Bernard-Jr (6-0, 205) Tywin Kalandyk-So (6-2, 210)
CB Rovel Hamilton-Sr (6-0, 185) Sheldon Shakespeare-Fr (5-10, 160)
CB Ron Ellis-So (5-10, 180) Rashard Johnson-Sr (6-0, 185)
SS Atari Bigby-Sr (5-11, 215) Renford Parkes-Fr (5-11, 200)
FS Peter Sands-Sr (6-2, 215) Trevonn Johnson-So (6-3, 185)
P Scott Sevin-Sr (6-0, 200) Matt Prater-Jr (5-11, 175)




Matt Prater is an accurate kicker who is fairly reliable from inside 50 yards. His talents will prove valuable late in the game at some point this season. Though the nation's best punter from 2003, he was actually being replaced in order to solidify his kicking skills. But spring proved Prater is likely to be the starting punter once again before the 2004 season ends. Tavaris Capers is a quick and elusive return man. This unit is a plus versus most opponents.