UCF football has been the top Group of Five team the last two years, but what’s in store for the Knights this year without McKenzie Milton?
For the last two seasons, the UCF Golden Knights have been the darlings of the Group of 5 and have ignited constant debate when it comes to the playoff selection process. An undefeated season in 2017 and a 12-1 season in 2018 earned them back to back new year’s six bowl appearances against Auburn and LSU which they split.
Now, as they enter 2019, the expectations for UCF have not changed as they are ranked 19th nationally and favored to win the American Athletic Conference. However, the roster has some serious question marks in critical areas.
Starting with who’s going to replace the recovering McKenzie Milton at quarterback. What began as a four-person competition is down to three as they enter fall camp without Darriel Mack Jr. who suffered a broken ankle earlier this offseason. Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush, redshirt freshman Quadry Jones, and true freshman Dillon Gabriel will all get a shot at the job. Jones is the only one who has thrown passes for the team, but regardless this is looking like a tough decision for head coach Josh Heupel.
The trenches will also be an area of concern as they have to replace their entire defensive line and two starters on the offensive line.
On the positive, the Knights return a majority of their skill position players. Running backs Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins will be relied on heavily while Gabriel Davis and Tre Nixon can provide big plays on the outside. And though they are replacing two offensive linemen, the three remaining starters are studs.
The defense was not very good in 2018 especially against the run, but they do return three of four starters in the secondary which was their strong suit by far. It’ll be up to defensive coordinator Randy Shannon to solve things within the front seven.
Overall UCF still possesses the most talent in the AAC conference going in 2019, but the gap has closed.
Let’s take a look at their schedule and see what if they have what it takes to make another New Year’s Bowl run.