O'Leary picks familiar face for Knights' DC

Paul Ferraro, an NFL assistant for several years, is joining his former longtime boss as UCF defensive coordinator next season.

Paul Ferraro, an NFL assistant for several years, is joining his former longtime boss as UCF defensive coordinator next season.

ORLANDO— Central Florida hired longtime NFL assistant Paul Ferraro to be defensive coordinator next season.

Ferraro has been defensive coordinator at Division I-AA's Maine the past two years. He'll accompany the Knights to the Fiesta Bowl in Glendale, Ariz., on New Year's Day, but not as coach, saying that his job has "pretty much just been observing practice and watching the guys."

"I'm very happy to have him on board," coach George O'Leary told the Orlando Sentinel. "He's on the trip right now, but more to be seen than heard. Anything he sees that he can help us with of course I want some advice on that. … He has a lot of experience, he's coached linebackers and secondary and he's been on the sideline a bunch making key calls and a great time management guy."

Ferraro worked with the NFL's Panthers, Vikings and Rams from 2005-11. He was an assistant for O'Leary at Georgia Tech from 1995-2001 and also coached under O'Leary as a graduate assistant at Syracuse in 1983.

"My philosophy is certainly a lot like Coach O'Leary's," Ferraro told the Sentinel. "That's where I began my career. Just play hard, keep it simple so the guys can run around and fly around to the ball."

Ferraro replaces Jim Flemming, who left to become head coach at Rhode Island shortly before the 15th-ranked Knights were scheduled to face No. 6 Baylor in Wednesday's bowl. O'Leary will call defensive plays for a young unit that is facing its biggest test of the season.

UCF ranks 12th nationally in scoring defense despite having just two seniors on its two-deep depth chart. But it isn't being given much chance of slowing the Bears, who lead the country in scoring offense.

LATE SATURDAY: Kansas State won its first bowl game in 11 years by rolling over Michigan 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz.

Jake Waters threw for 271 yards and connected with record-breaking receiver Tyler Lockett on three scores, helping the Wildcats (8-5) end a five-game bowl losing streak.

"Nobody on the team won a bowl game," Lockett said. "It has been 11 years, (like) 4,018 games. We wanted to send the seniors out with a great win in a Kansas State uniform."

The Wildcats defense dominated, holding the Wolverines (7-6) to 261 total yards, 82 on a final scoring drive in the fourth quarter with the game out of reach.

OBITUARY: Vernon "Bud" Lyons, a lineman on Tennessee's 1951 national championship team, died of cancer Tuesday at his home in Corinth, Texas. He was 84.

O'Leary picks familiar face for Knights' DC 12/29/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 29, 2013 8:48pm]

© 2014 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours