The Knights were projected to compete for a Conference USA title in 2011 but ultimately posted a 5-7 record, with a string of turnovers or late broken tackles making the difference between wins and losses.
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Bright House Networks Stadium, Oviedo, FL 32765, USA
O'Leary had to skip Conference USA preseason football media day Wednesday in Dallas because he had minor surgery on his leg. The coach spoke with the Orlando Sentinel about his team, which starts preseason camp Wednesday.
OS: How do you feel about your team entering preseason camp?
O'Leary: "This is the first year from a two-deep standpoint [from the start of camp to the end,] it's not going to change a lot. Obviously, we'll look at the freshmen and see if they fit in. Obviously if they earn a spot, we're just going to be a better team for it. I'm happy in that sense because every other year we'd be trying to pencil some freshmen in to fill holes."
OS: Do you have any players who will miss camp due to injuries?
O'Leary: "Everybody's back. The only one that I'm holding out for the month of September is Luke Adams, who had a knee situation and was operated on. … Everybody is full contact. I'll probably leave the [ankle and knee] braces on, but they can do everything in the preseason."
OS: Blake Bortles is your starting quarterback and you've called this his team, but has Missouri transfer Tyler Gabbert made a smooth transition to UCF?
O'Leary: "From my understanding from the players, he's picked things up extremely well offensively. Throws a great ball. Has good arm strength. We'll know more next week when we start practice, but I've been very pleased with his poise and the way the players have adapted to him.
"I think it's great to have competition at a position. I think it's great to have two quarterbacks who can play for you. And then we have the luxury of a [Rob] Calabrese and a [Jeff] Godfrey, who can do individual segments of quarterback play."
OS: How has Godfrey handled the shift from quarterback to wide receiver after leaving the program for the spring semester?
O'Leary: "From what the players tell me, he has adapted extremely well. Hopefully he's matured. I think his marriage has really settled him down a little bit. He's fulfilled everything we spoke about when he came back. And I've been pleased with all the reports I've been getting as far as how he has improved as a receiver. He has the ability to do something with the ball in his hands."
OS: Is receiver J.J. Worton, who missed most of spring practice due to an arrest, set to participate in preseason camp?
O'Leary: "He's back in school. He'll be ready to participate in the preseason. He's fulfilled all of his sanctions … [including] a suspension for a semester."
OS: How do you feel about the preseason praise UCF has earned, and how will you address it with your players?
O'Leary: "It's nice to be recognized. … It doesn't allow you not to show up. You've still got to show up and win. The big thing is it's where you are in November, not where you are in August, that's important. I'll keep addressing that with the players. Akron, right now, is our most important game on our schedule."
firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-650-6353. Read Iliana Limón Romero's blog OrlandoSentinel.com/knightsnotepad.