PREVIEW: No. 17 UCF Knights Travel To Florida Atlantic In First Road Game of 2019
By John Heisler – UCF Knights // September 7, 2019
Kickoff set for 7 p.m.
ABOVE VIDEO: The UCF football team continues its journey with its first road trip of 2019, a battle with the Owls of FAU.
BOCA RATON, FLORIDA (UCF Knights) – So far, so good.
That qualified as the simple takeaway from UCF’s season-opening home win over Florida A&M. The Knights (1-0, ranked #17 coaches, #18 AP) saw virtually everything go their way from start to finish.
A season-ending knee injury to starting junior cornerback Brandon Moore marked one of the few rough spots—and that will showcase the UCF secondary depth beginning this weekend.
The Knights should benefit from a few extra days to rest, recover and prepare based on their Thursday night opener–though the impending prospect of Hurricane Dorian, which cancelled classes at UCF through Thursday, threw a small monkey wrench into the Knights’ plans for the week.
Meanwhile, Josh Heupel’s crew heads on to its first road test Saturday night at Florida Atlantic.
Here are some areas to watch when the Owls (0-1) square off against the Knights:
Can the Knights keep up anywhere near this statistical pace? The outsized numbers from the first outing versus FAMU meant some rather amazing one-game differentials in terms of total yards, first downs, tackles for loss, quarterback hurries—and just about every other listing on the final stat sheet. For example, the Knights stand with Oklahoma as the lone teams in week one to both run and pass for at least 300 yards. UCF held FAMU to four net rushing yards—while a new-look Owl ground attack managed 22 net yards last Saturday against Ohio State. So, what sort of expectations should Heupel and his staff have this time out? UCF coaches will point to the standards they’ve set since they’ve been around beginning in 2018—and let the Knights take it from there.
What’s next at quarterback?
Heupel and offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Jeff Lebby had much to like about the signal-calling productivity from the opener against FAMU—whether it was Brandon Wimbush, Dillon Gabriel or Quadry Jones. With Heupel indicating ongoing roles for multiple quarterbacks again this week, Knights’ fans will be eager to see what sort of tasty combination UCF can cook up, this time away from home.
What happens when there’s some serious adversity?
At some point the Knights have to expect some on-the-field adversity, right? And how will UCF react to that? A turnover in their own end? An early (or late) deficit? A big individual performance by one or more opposing players? None of that happened in week one—but the Knights’ staff hopes its roster is prepared for the inevitable.
Any hurricane leftovers?
It’s been a strange week with both teams and their fans trying to figure out if Hurricane Dorian would affect the game in any tangible way. The UCF campus has been a ghost town most of the week with classes cancelled through Thursday and athletic teams left as the very few occupants. The Knights moved their normal practice schedule a day early just in case. Meanwhile, FAU cancelled classes through Wednesday. By Saturday night, life for all involved should be back to normal, yet it’s been a different sort of week for both teams in terms of timing, prep and mental conditioning.
What about that UCF secondary? The Knights came into 2019 with a well-established starting unit at cornerback and safety. Now, Moore is lost for the rest of the fall—so names like Tay Gowan and Zamari Maxwell likely will step into the fray. And can remaining veterans Richie Grant, Nevelle Clarke, Antwan Collier and Aaron Robinson do their parts to minimize Moore’s loss?
And one more for good measure . . .
Which FAU team will the Knights see? Will it be the Lane Kiffin-coached unit that gave up 200 yards in the first eight and a half minutes in Columbus and fell behind 28-0? Or will it be the FAU group that rebounded to play fifth-rated Ohio State mostly toe to toe the remainder of the way. The Owls strung together second-half scoring drives of 65, 75 and 76 yards (the last two ending with touchdowns), and that put some extra spring in their steps as they exited Ohio Stadium.
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