What the Knights Learned vs. UConn

UCF, through four games, was only even in turnover margin (three each forced by the Knights and their combined opponents). UConn found out how difficult it is to navigate against the Knights when Josh Heupel's group wins that battle—as UCF did by a 4-1 count Saturday night. All four UConn miscues came in the first 20 minutes (three on five possessions to start)—and all that led dramatically to the Knights' early 42-0 lead.
That was a strong suit for UCF a year ago when the Knights committed only 14 turnovers all year (seven interceptions, seven lost fumbles) compared to exactly twice as many by their opponents (14 of each). That helped UCF rank third nationally in turnover margin in 2018.
Here are some additional final thoughts on UCF's victory over UConn:

  1. GD from DG. UCF junior receiver Gabriel Davis is off to a hot start, with his eight TD receptions so far in 2019 ranking second nationally (only Hawaii's Cedric Byrd has more, with nine). The Knights' single-season record is 14 by Bret Cooper in 1992. Davis averages 19.96 yards per reception. He now has 19 career TD catches—within range of David Rhodes' school mark of 29 in 1991-94. 
  2. And the Knights continue to hang with . . . . National statistical rankings again list UCF among names in the conversation at the upper echelon of this week's NCAA numbers. Overall, the Knights rank in the national top 10 in nine different NCAA categories—and lead the AAC in eight. Here's where UCF stands:
    --2nd in first downs with 136 (Ohio State leads the way with 146)
    --2nd in total offense at 568.6 yards per game (Oklahoma is atop that list at 668.5, 99.9 yards ahead of the Knights)
    --6th in tackles for loss (9.2 per game)
    --6th in scoring offense at 49.0 (LSU tops that chart at 57.8)
    The Knights stand eighth nationally in both team figures for passing efficiency and passing efficiency defense.  
  3. Yes, he's only a true freshman, but . . . . First-year UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel continues to impress, especially with a TD pass-to-interception ratio of 14 to two. Gabriel ranks sixth in national individual passing efficiency—and the names ahead of him are regulars in the Heisman Trophy conversation, including Oklahoma's Jalen Hurts, LSU's Joe Burrow, Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa and Ohio State's Justin Fields. Gabriel averages 18.08 yards per completion—and the only players with better numbers in that category are Hurts (19.62) and Tevaka Tuioti of Mew Mexico (18.41). McKenzie Milton set the UCF single-season mark in that category just a year ago at 15.57. 
  4. This is what UCFast means. UCF's eight TD drives Saturday versus UConn averaged 57.5 seconds and 3.75 plays each (that included an interception return for a score that featured zeros in both columns). The Knights' lights-out tempo means the UCF offense does its thing and gets off the field. That has resulted in an amazing time-of-possession advantage of more than eight minutes per game so far by 2019 UCF opponents—though the Knights actually have run six more plays (384-378).
  5. A little love for the AAC. UCF this week jumped four spots (most of any team) in the AP poll to the 18th spot. Memphis (4-0 for the second time since 2015) moved into the poll of coaches for the first time, while SMU (5-0 for the first time since 1983) stands 24th in the AP standings. The American is one of five FBS conferences with multiple unbeaten teams, joining the Big Ten, SEC, ACC and Big 12. UCF registered its 19th straight win against an AAC opponent as the Knights took their 56-21 victory against UConn, while  The American went 4-0 in nonconference games Saturday. Then there are Cincinnati (3-1 after consecutive wins), Tulane (3-1), Temple (3-1) and Navy (2-1 while leading the nation in rushing).