What the Knights Learned vs. FAMU

The Knights are 1-0 for a fourth straight year after their record 16th-straight home victory. UCF coach Josh Heupel and his staff may not have learned much about how their 2019 team will respond to adversity based on the 62-0 final score versus Florida A&M—yet no one in the Knights' camp in Orlando is complaining.
For one Thursday night at the Bounce House (Spectrum Stadium), there was much that went right in the worlds of UCF fans.
With perspective required in some measure given that we're just approaching Labor Day, consider some leftovers from UCF's opening win over the Rattlers:

1. The Knights can score points and gain yards quickly. Neither of those pronouncements comes as any surprise, yet the overall UCF efficiency Thursday was impressive:

  • Eight TD drives averaged 5.25 plays, 60 yards and 1:22 in time of possession.
  • UCF's 42 first downs were an American Athletic Conference record and were only three fewer than the all-time NCAA single-game record of 45 from 2003 (Texas Tech vs. Iowa State).
  • At one point the Knights boasted a 34-1 advantage in first downs.

2. There's depth on that offensive roster. This ranks as no surprise either. Heupel had talked all during fall camp about his team's depth in terms of playmakers—and they all had their chances Thursday. UCF produced five rushes of at least 24 yards and five pass plays of at least 24 (eight of those 10 came in the opening half). Those 10 plays alone accounted for 303 yards. Meanwhile, FAMU had only three plays all night featuring double-figure yards. Eleven Knights caught at least one pass—and that's a receiving list high that didn't happen in all of 2018, for example. 

3. Lots of options at quarterback. Heupel talked consistently about how well all of his quarterbacks had competed in fall camp. That didn't change Thursday evening. Brandon Wimbush had five runs in the first period alone that produced first downs. Rookie Dillon Gabriel led four TD-producing drives—and those four totaled 205 yards and averaged 51 seconds in TOP. When the Knights score, they do it fast. Quadry Jones added a TD pass of his own in the final period, and Darriel Mack Jr. may yet rebound from his ankle injury to help this fall. UCF fans may still be getting used to not seeing McKenzie Milton on the field, but the Knights appear to have a corps of signal-callers who can contribute. UCF had never had three different QBs throw TD passes in a single game until Thursday night. 

By the way, this may not mean anything at all, but check the similarity between Wimbush's stat line versus FAMU compared to that of Clemson star Trevor Lawrence that same night versus Georgia Tech:

Wimbush (UCF)23120168281.38200
Lawrence (Clemson)23132168170.63241

4. UCF's defense will grow. Maybe the Knights' biggest goal in the offseason was to find ways to shore up their rush defense, with a variety of new additions expected to help. That happened, too, versus FAMU. The defense accounted for 14 hurries and 22 incompletions--and 14 Knights had a hand in at least one sack or tackle for loss. The defensive line depth was evident, as UCF rolled multiple ends and tackles up front--and virtually all made statistical contributions in the form of tackles, TFLs or hurries. In the first half, the Knights held FAMU to three yards or fewer on 17 of the first 19 Rattler rush attempts. Of the first 14 throwing tries by the visitors, only three found their mark for a combined 10 yards. 

5. Kicking game debuts impressively. If special teams coach Nick Toth had any trouble sleeping in August with newcomers handling the punting and placekicking duties, he probably rested better late Thursday night. That's because redshirt senior Dylan Barnas (his UCF experience comprised one kickoff in 2017) was flawless on a pair of field goals (from 42 and 23 yards), while redshirt freshman punter Andrew Osteen finished with a 42-yard average on four punts. Osteen's first attempt traveled only 17 yards—then he responded with three more that averaged 50.7 yards (the last one traveled 56 yards). 

UCF is unlikely to routinely post advantages of 462-25 in total yards by halftime (as happened against FAMU), yet Heupel loves to talk to his players about setting a standard. The Knights had a solid start on understanding what that means.