What the Knights Learned vs. FAU

Ten straight road wins. That's not bad for any football program at any level.
Then there are 26 consecutive regular-season victories. That's not bad either.
Then there are 28 straight games of rushing for at least one touchdown and also passing for at least one score. Most any football team would celebrate that, too.
That's where UCF stands after two weeks of play in 2019. That's where the Knights are after a more-than-comfortable 48-14 away-from-home triumph down the road in Boca Raton against a Florida Atlantic unit that exactly a year ago scored 36 points against UCF in Spectrum Stadium in a 20-point Knight win.
UCF coach Josh Heupel and his staff learned a little more about their 2019 team on Saturday night.
Here are some thoughts after UCF's win over the Owls:

  1. 1, 2, 3, 4 . . . Heupel is fond of saying that there's no way to expect success if you don't have more than one contributing player at each position. So the UCF head coach has to like that fact each of the last four Knight victories has come with a different starting quarterback. In order those are McKenzie Milton (South Florida in 2018), Darriel Mack Jr. (Memphis in the 2018 AAC title game), Brandon Wimbush (Florida A&M in 2019) and Dillon Gabriel (Florida Atlantic). All four of those players remain on the 2019 UCF roster—and that quartet is supplemented by current redshirt freshman Quadry Jones who has led scoring drives in each of the first two UCF games in 2019. 
  2. And the Knights are hanging with . . . . National statistical rankings must be taken with a grain of salt in September as opposed to the longer track record they represent by November. Still, it's interesting to see the names in the conversation at the top echelon of this week's NCAA numbers. Overall, the Knights rank in the national top 10 in 18 different NCAA categories—and lead the AAC in 14. Here's where UCF stands:
    • 1st in first downs (ahead of Coastal Carolina, Texas Tech, Hawaii and Boise State)
    • 1st in tackles for loss (ahead of Florida, USF, Illinois and Penn State)
    • 2nd in yards per pass completion (at 19.94, with Air Force on top despite only a single- 40-yard completion in the Falcons' lone game)
    • 3rd in pass efficiency defense (behind only Wisconsin and TCU)
    • 5th in total offense (behind Oklahoma, Temple, Utah State and Maryland)
    • 5th in scoring defense (behind Wisconsin, NC State, Alabama and Texas Tech)
    • 6th in rushing (behind Navy, Air Force, Kansas State, Maryland and Oklahoma)
    • 6th in total defense (behind Wisconsin, Troy, Air Force, Iowa and NC State)
  3. The freshman quarterback has been productive. Dillon Gabriel played only 21 snaps versus Florida A&M in the 2019 opener. Then he started Saturday against Florida Atlantic but didn't play in the final period. And Gabriel knows he will do better than his seven-for-19 completion percentage versus the Owls. Still, the Hawaii product ranks seventh nationally in passing efficiency this week at 199.2 rating points. It's worth noting that Gabriel is in there with the likes of Jalen Hurts from Oklahoma (first at 252.3), LSU's Joe Burrows (second at 219.1) and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa (sixth at 204.3). Gabriel in those two games boasts 16 combined completions good for an average of 23.2 yards per catch.   
  4. How good is UCF's defense? Through two weeks of play the Knights have permitted only a single touchdown—and that came late versus FAU when UCF was substituting liberally. The Knights have given up just 2.0 yards per rush—with UCF foes completing only 42 percent of their throws. The Knights have forced 23 opponent punts. Twenty-one different UCF defenders have taken part in a tackle for loss, yet no one has more than three (that's defensive lineman Mason Cholewa). It's unrealistic to expect that pace to continue unabated—but it's a solid start by most any measure. 
  5. Love the backfield depth. Anyone who has followed the Knights knows there's a plethora of contributors with speed in the running, receiving and runback areas. That's already been on full display in 2019, even though no particular individual owns off-the-chart numbers to date. Four players have rushed for between 112 and 156 yards. Thirteen different players have caught at least one pass. Ten different players have scored at least one touchdown. Five players have at least 156 all-purpose yards—Adrian Killins, Jr., Otis Anderson, Greg McCrae, Bentavious Thompson and receiver Gabriel Davis. Game-planning to defend all of them has been no easy task for the opposition. 

    Meanwhile, the veteran of the offense is center Jordan Johnson who has made 40 consecutive starts. Only six players in the country have made more—led by 42 by Louisiana Tech offensive lineman Ethan Reed.