UCF is looking to continue it’s success coming into the 2019 season. The Knights finished fifth in the nation averaging 523 yards and 43 points per game. With eight starters returning, the fun will continue.
But the interesting situation is at Quarterback. UCF phenom McKenzie Milton is still in rehab from his gruesome leg injury, and the man who stepped in for UCF, 6-3 QB Darriel Mack (619 passing yards, three touchdowns, and 337 rushing yards and six scores) broke his ankle in July.
UCF will stand with Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush to start the season, and see where that goes.
The running game should be strong with Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins. Look for them to do some damage and be regulars running into the defensive secondaries of opponents with home run rushes.
The Knights lost Wyatt Miller and Tyler Hudanick from the left side which might be a problem. The three returning starters Jordan Johnson, Jake Brown, and Cole Schneider should be in the mix for All-American Athletic honors. Johnson might be the league’s best center, Brown is one the top tackles out there, and Cole Schneider is an all-star guard.
UCF Recievers Gabriel Davis returns after catching 53 passes for 815 yards and seven scores. They also have Tre Nixon who has the ability to stretch the filed. Also, Look out for 6-7 former Wisconsin Badger Jake Hescock and former Notre Damer Jonathon MacCollister combining for the tight end job.
On Defense, the Knights lost Titus Davis, AJ Wooten, Joey Connors. but have Cam Goode (Transfer from Virginia Tech) as well as sophomore Mason Cholewa and Brandon Wilson to step in to help the D-line.
Second-leading tackler Nate Evans is back after earning all-star honors on the outside, but senior Shawn Burgess-Becker needs to rise up at the other spot. Sophomore Eriq Gilyard – who made 38 tackles – will get the first look to replace Pat Jasinski in the middle.
The Knight return both corners. Nevelle Clarke and Brandon Moore, as well as unior Antwan Collier for the secondary.
UCF has a major on the schedule as Stanford comes to Orlando on September 14th , a much stronger opponent than last year’s game against Pitt. A win against this west coast powerhouse and take down Pitt on the road the following week, that has a legitimate chance to get the Knights a good spot in the playoff rankings.
But without the magic of Milton, or even the skills of Mack, plus the missing pieces in key areas, it’s hard to see an undefeated season this year.
The Knights still have plenty of talent, and should remain a major player in the top of the AAC.