UCF Knights Football Team Preview

After an undefeated regular season that ended on a sour note in the Fiesta Bowl, the Central Florida Knights will look to maintain their status as the top Group of Five, program.

2018 Season in Review

Despite losing head coach Scott Frost to alma mater Nebraska in the offseason, UCF managed to pull off their second straight undefeated regular season. Largely ignored by the selection committee as a member of the American Athletic Conference, coach Josh Heupel and his sixth ranked offense lit up opponents at a tune of 43.2 points per game.

Unfortunately, the Knights were dealt a big blow late in the season, when star quarterback McKenzie Milton went down with a serious knee injury in the regular season finale against rival South Florida. His backup, Darriel Mack Jr. played well enough in relief to lead UCF to the AAC title against Memphis, but fell just short against LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.

Key Returning Players (2018 Stats)

  • RB Greg McCrae (Junior) - 1,182 Rush Yards | 10 Rush TD | 8.9 YPC
  • WR Gabriel Davis (Junior) - 53 Receptions | 815 Rec Yards | 7 Rec TD
  • OLB Nate Evans (Senior) - 99 Total Tackles | 10.0 TFL | 2 Fumble Rec
  • S Richie Grant (Redshirt Junior) - 108 Total Tackles | 6 INT | 2 Forced Fumbles

With Milton likely sidelined until the 2020 season, either Mack or Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush will be taking snaps for the Knights. Whoever wins the job will have a cupboard stocked with offensive threats. The twin rushing attack of Greg McCrae and Adrian Killins will keep opposing defenses on their toes, while top receiver Gabriel Davis is back for his senior year in Orlando. The offensive line will also be in good hands with All-AAC selections Jake Brown, Cole Schneider, and Jordan Johnson.

Former Miami head coach and current defensive coordinator, Randy Shannon will get to work with a deep secondary that features all-conference picks Richie Grant and Nevelle Clarke. Top tackler Nate Evans is back to lead a linebacking unit that should see redshirt junior, Eric Mitchell taking on a larger role on the outside. Redshirt senior defensive end Brendon Hayes is the lone projected starter on the defensive line with significant starting experience.

Key Departures

  • DT Trysten Hill (NFL Draft)
  • OG Wyatt Miller (Graduation)
  • WR Dredrick Snelson (NFL Draft)
  • DE Titus Davis (Graduation)

Although UCF's losses via the draft and graduation are not crushing blows, these players will certainly be missed. The Knights will be without top pass rusher Titus Davis, who lived in opposing backfields with 17 tackles for losses and 6.5 sacks. The same can be said for Trysten Hill, who was chosen in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys. Second leading receiver Dredrick Snelson opted to leave school early and wound up in Jacksonville as an undrafted free agent.

Notable Recruits (Star Ratings and Rankings According to Rivals.com)

  • DE Tre'Mon Morris-Brash - 3 Star | 6-3, 218lb | St. John's College HS | Washington, D.C.
  • QB Dillon Gabriel - 3 Star | 6-0, 180lb | Mililani HS | Mililani, HI
  • OT Adrian Medley - 3 Star | 6-4, 310lb | Pensacola HS | Pensacola, FL
  • OG Lokahi Pauole - 3 Star | 6-4, 320lb | Kamehameha School | Kapolei, HI

The name that jumps out in this recruiting class is quarterback Dillon Gabriel, who happens to hail from the same high school in Hawaii that produced McKenzie Milton. Defensive end prospect Tre'Mon Morris-Brash will get to learn from the likes of Brendon Hayes and senior Chris Deloach, while defensive tackle prospect Noah Hancock and linebacker Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste could challenge for playing time as freshmen.

2019 Schedule

Date Opponent
August 29th Florida A&M
September 7th @ Florida Atlantic
September 14th Stanford
September 21st @ Pittsburgh
September 28th UConn
October 4th @ Cincinnati
October 19th East Carolina
October 26th @ Temple
November 2nd Houston
November 8th @ Tulsa
November 23rd @ Tulane
November 29th South Florida

The marquee matchup on the schedule is UCF's home game against Stanford, which is the lone opportunity for the Knights to impress the nation and selection committee. The road trip to Heinz Field against Pittsburgh could be an interesting matchup, as is the visit to Cincinnati. Not having to play Memphis, while hosting South Florida and Houston at Spectrum Stadium should prove to be advantageous for the Knights.

Where to Bet on Win Totals and Conference Title Odds in New Jersey

New Jersey residents can log on to 888Sport to wager on UCF's AAC title odds as well as their win in total. With an over/under of 10 wins, those feeling optimistic about the Knights will only have room for a single loss during the regular season.

AAC Conference Winner

Sportsbook UCF Link
888Sport NJ +140

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

Number of Games Won - Excluding Bowl Games & Play Offs

Regular season only. Conference championship games do not count.

Sportsbook Over 10 Under 10 Link
888Sport NJ +120 -148

* 21+ | NJ only | If you or someone you know has a gambling problem, call 1-800-GAMBLER

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