What the Knights Learned at ECU

The recipe is simple and it's nothing new for UCF: Play at a tempo that makes defenses struggle to keep up, mix up the pass and run with a bent toward the throwing part--and put enough pressure on an opposing offense to create lost-yardage plays and put foes in tough down-and-distance situations.
All that, nine caused turnovers (only Syracuse with 10 has prompted more) and a solid kicking game (three for three on field goals and a 41.67-yard net punting average) have been enough for two relatively comfortable wins so far in 2020:
1. Lost numbers. Missed in the Knights' win in Greenville were that Dillon Gabriel's 47 pass attempts marked one more than his previous career high (46 at Cincinnati and Tulane in 2019) and his 32 completions were seven more than he completed in any 2019 game (25 at Pitt and Cincinnati).
--Gabriel became the first UCF quarterback to throw for 400-plus yards on consecutive Saturdays (417 vs. Georgia Tech, 408 vs. ECU) . . . There have been 13 other individual 400-plus performances in UCF history—three each by Daunte Culpepper (1995-98) and Ryan Schneider (2000-03), two by McKenzie Milton (2016-current).
--Gabriel became the latest UCF QB to throw four TD passes in consecutive games (Georgia Tech and ECU); McKenzie Milton did it in three straight in 2017 (four each vs. Temple and USF, then five vs. Memphis in the AAC Championship Game). 
--Three FBS players have thrown for more yards than the 825 by Gabriel--but the other three have played either three or four games compared to two by Gabriel.
2. Long distance? No problem. UCF's offensive efficiency again in 2020 is producing long-yardage scoring drives in short periods of time:
--@Georgia Tech: Seven TD drives averaged 7.2 plays, 62.5 yards and 2:21 in time of possession
--@ECU: Six TD drives averaged 6.6 plays, 66.6 yards, 1:43 TOP
--Over the final three periods at Georgia Tech UCF's TOP advantage was 26:51 to 18:09.
--Over the first three periods at ECU the Knights' TOP advantage was 22:54-22:06.
3. The run game is better than advertised. While UCF's outsized passing attack earns its share of headlines, the Knights running game again has been quietly effective. UCF ranks 12th nationally in rushing so far in 2020—and its current 5.13-yard average per attempt is behind only seven of the teams rated ahead. That 5.13 number compares favorably to the 5.2 figure from 2019 and the 5.8 number from 2018 when the Knights set the school record for rushing yards in a season. The big three of Greg McCrae (5.3 yards per carry), Otis Anderson (4.4) and Bentavious Thompson (4.9) all have between 22 and 25 attempts and they combine to average exactly 175 rushing yards per game. The run game works because no player in FBS college football has more receptions than the 23 by Marlon Williams of UCF (and Jaylon Robinson is not far behind with 15 catches and his ninth-in-the-nation receiving yards total).
4. AAC looking good in limited play. Here are records to date in non-league games (includes FBS and FCS): AAC 10-3, ACC 7-2, Big 12 6-4, C-USA 11-11, Sun Belt 9-10. The most FBS wins are seven by the AAC--and there are only a handful of non-conference games the rest of the way.
5. More solid stats. Of the top seven single-game team total offense figures so far in 2020, UCF has two: North Texas 721, SMU 710, Texas 689, BYU 664, UCF 660, Florida 642, UCF 632. . . . The Knights stand seventh nationally in third-down conversions (at .563). Last year UCF was at 40 percent in that category. . . . UCF stands 17th nationally in red-zone defense. . . . Marlon Williams (fifth individually) and Jaylon Robinson (10th) have combined for 272.5 receiving yards per game—the only thing comparable is Mississippi State's crazy 623-passing yard total against LSU that after one game gives the Bulldogs three players who combined for 463 receiving yards. Mississippi State ranks last of 72 rated FBS teams in rushing with 16 attempts for nine yards at LSU.