Replay: UCF Opener Has Familiar Look

Game Recap Watch Highlights

There were no epic pregame motivational speeches required Thursday night at Spectrum Stadium.
A UCF football team that, at least technically, was responding to its first loss in a couple of seasons—but more appropriately had interest in displaying the Knights' ample depth at quarterback, running back, receiver and defensive line (among others)—did just that in its 2019 opener against Florida A&M.
Josh Heupel's squad, used to posting offensive numbers at a dizzying pace, did just that, too, against the Rattlers, scoring early and often in a 62-0 thumping of the visitors from Tallahassee.
It may not have been perfect—and the second-half leg injury to cornerback Brandon Moore certainly threw a bit of a wet blanket over the postgame scene—yet Heupel had to like what he saw from his Knights in their first time out of the gate.
The challenges certainly will be greater in the weeks to come—yet UCF gave notice it is more than capable of going about its business in a workmanlike—and yet spectacular in its own way from a statistical standpoint—fashion.
Save the fancy oratory for another night. The Knights handled virtually all their assignments just fine Thursday night, thank you.
The student section at the south end supported its massive "Welcome to the Knightmare" banner.

After months of offseason preparation, a fall camp that began back in July—and with the Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU (the one black mark on the resume over 2017-18) still grating on memories of returning Knight players, UCF wasted no time setting the tone for the new year.
Heupel's charges were so eager to show their stuff that there was little for the UCF head coach to do other than turn them loose from the locker room and point them on their way.
He went from locker to locker shaking hands with each player. He talked about ball security, he talked about playing from snap to whistle for 60 minutes. He did not need to say much because UCF quite obviously was anxious to do its thing.
The first-half domination, in particular, was downright striking on a pretty evening that began at 91 degrees.
FAMU's first possession produced three incompletions and lasted all of 23 seconds—and that set the tone for this one-sided affair. It never really got any better for the Rattlers.
By the time FAMU earned its initial first down in the second quarter, UCF already had 19 (and a 27-0 lead).
Nine of the Rattlers' first 10 drives (and 11 of 14 overall) chalked up as three and outs. The visitors did not convert a third-down attempt until the third period. FAMU's most noteworthy foray lasted more than eight minutes and included 15 plays—but the 60-yard event ended in a blocked field-goal try.
Meanwhile, the Knights hit on all cylinders right off the top. Stadium public-address announcer Erik Kohler routinely prompts UCF fans by noting "it's another UCF . . . first down (spectators fill in that last phrase)." And all involved had to be a bit hoarse by halftime because Heupel's crew amassed 30 first downs in the opening half alone, 16 in a gaudy second period that produced a record-tying 31 points. And that's after an opening period that featured 250 net offensive yards.
Grad transfer quarterback Brandon Wimbush flipped the ball to Otis Anderson on a misdirection sweep on the first Knights' play from scrimmage and the 31-yard gain told UCF fans all they needed to know about how the evening would go from Anderson's perspective (155 all-purpose yards) and for Orlando's hometown team in general.
Wimbush's third throw in an anthracite UCF jersey went to junior Gabriel Davis in traffic for 37 yards and the early lead. Maybe more impressively, each of Wimbush's first five runs translated to first downs. FAMU's most effective weapon became punter Chris Faddoul and his 48.5-yard average.
The home team built advantages of 166-10 in total yards – and then 250-19 by the end of the opening period. Then it became 354-25, including 20-1 in first downs.
At one point late in that opening half, Wimbush had the nameplate ripped from the back of his jersey—but that was about all the adversity any Knight fan witnessed.
It was 48-0 at halftime. If UCF fans had questions, that production answered most of them.
Wimbush led seven first-half drives producing three touchdowns and a pair of field goals. Freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel showed the poise Knight coaches had hoped to see – and all three of his first-half opportunities translated to TDs.
Knight coaches at the break stressed that this was a 60-minute exercise.
"Great job—so far," noted defensive coordinator Randy Shannon.
Said Heupel to the full squad, "Understand the standard is set. Let's go."
Gabriel threw his third TD pass less than two minutes into the second half, connecting on seven of his eight throws to that point.
FAMU managed two first downs in the first five minutes of the third period—but after only that single first down in the opening half—the hill remained way too steep to climb.
The visitors had no real luck running the football—as UCF's dozen tackles for loss played a big role in limiting FAMU to four net rushing yards. The Rattlers' 14-for-36 passing accuracy did not help make much headway either.
Moore's injury at the 1:21 mark of the third period prompted a lengthy delay—with the entire UCF squad at one point surrounding the junior defensive back on the visiting sideline.
By game's end all three quarterbacks—Wimbush (12 of 23 passing for 168, two TDs; eight carries for 22 yards), Gabriel (nine of 13 for 127 , three TDs) and redshirt freshman Quadry Jones (two for two for 61 yards, one TD)—put the UCF depth there on full display.
Adrian Killins Jr. (106 yards) led the ground-gaining parade that featured 14 carries for him, 12 by redshirt freshman Trillion Coles and 10 for Greg McCrae (56 yards in his first career start).
Twenty-nine players were credited with at least one tackle. Knight defenders spent time harassing Rattler quarterbacks and ballcarriers early and often.
"Great job, all three phases," said Heupel to his squad when it was over. "So many things we've been working on for eight months. We did a ton of positive things. Enjoy it. When we come back, let's look at all the little things we need to be on the right side of as we continue on this journey. Everybody got it?"
With that the emotional Knights said a prayer for Moore and then went on their way into the night.
UCF won its 16th home game in succession, has now scored in 31 straight periods, scored 30 points for the 27th time in a row (best streak in the country) and now has scored at least one rushing TD and one passing TD in 27 straight contests (another figure that far and away leads the nation).
The Knights saw their streak of 32 games in a row forcing at least one turnover end—but their solace was the final margins of 694-96 in total yards and 42-8 in first downs.
Heupel and his staff and team surely know all those numbers won't come quite so easily in weeks to come. Yet, for one night alone, the Knights answered the bell in noteworthy fashion. If UCF fans are used to points and yards flowing like confetti at a ticker-tape parade, Thursday's effort did not disappoint.
Hold the spellbinding speeches for another week.