A week away from their opening game of the 2019 season, the UCF Knights and coach Josh Heupel made the expected move of naming former Notre Dame transfer QB Brandon Wimbush, as their starter when they take on FAMU.
Official statement from Coach Heup on the QBs leading into 2019 👇 pic.twitter.com/5Nk084GDGu
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 22, 2019
The reason the tabbing of Wimbush to start was expected was due to last year’s starter at the end of the season, Darriel Mack, suffering a fractured ankle in a non-football injury this summer. Mack has not been able to practice with the team while rehabbing the injury.
As for Wimbush, he just completed his redshirt junior season and was a successful starter in 2017. Wimbush threw for over 1,800 yards and rushed for over another 600 leading Notre Dame to a 10-2 record. He also set the Irish record for rushing TDs by a quarterback with 14 for that year.
However, he went to the bench last season after the first three games being replaced by coach Brian Kelly in favor of Ian Book. Book led the Irish to six consecutive wins to get their record to 9- 0 before suffering a rib injury against Northwestern.
Wimbush replaced him in Notre Dame’s 42-13 romp over Florida State (above) in South Bend on November 10th. He threw for three touchdowns and ran for 68 yards in that victory.
Book then returned for the last two wins over Syracuse and USC to finish a perfect regular season. The Fighting Irish were blown out by eventual National Champion Clemson in the Cotton Bowl 30-3.
As for Mack, he was seen recently without a cast or walking boot, but there is not a timetable for his possible return.
The red-shirt sophomore took over as the replacement for injured starter and AAC Player-of-the-Year, McKenzie Milton, last November. That’s when Milton was injured horrifically in the first half of the rivalry game with USF. Mack managed the first half lead that UCF had built on to a 38-10 win, which clinched a spot in the Championship game.
The following week, Mack heroically lead the Knights to a roaring second-half comeback over the Memphis Tigers. After trailing 38-21 at the break, Mack threw for 348 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another 59 yards and four more scores in the 56-41 victory.
Mack was not nearly as successful in the Fiesta Bowl loss to LSU, where he completed just 11 – 30 for a puny 97 yards with one touchdown and one interception. And, he had -3 yards rushing on 11 carries, as the Tigers repeatedly sacked him that day in Arizona.
The other healthy QB option to begin the year is true freshman Dillon Gabriel, who is a speedy dual threat QB from Hawaii and is right out the mold of Milton. In fact, Gabriel broke several of Milton’s high school state passing records, including most passing yards in a career.
UCF showed why they are top team in latest power rankings
Another week has come and gone in the 2019 football season. In the state of Florida, it was another rough week for two of the NFL teams with the Fins and Jags both loosing again. While the Bucs were able to land an impressive division road win, UCF continued to roll, the Hurricanes got a victory, and the Gators pulled a out a late one, but lost a key player.
At the same time, FSU had yet another late-game collapse and USF did what they were supposed to do with an easy opponent. With all of that said lets breakdown the top teams in the state this week:
UCF Knights- The Knights just keep on “charging on.” Every time a team enters the “Bounce House,” they proceed to get bounced right on out of Orlando.
Freshman QB Dillon Gabriel is off to a hot start taking home a couple of national accolades last week. The Knights have now scored 30 points for the 29th game in a row, the longest streak since 1936. UCF gets another power five opponent this week on the road against Pittsburgh. If the Knights are able to roll over them with a couple of ranked matchups producing losses this weekend, will they be able to crack the top 10?
Florida Gators- The Gators had to sweat it out, but in the end, we’re able to come away with a win in Lexington. It took a missed field goal and a 76-yard WR sweep to eventually put the game away.
The Big story though, is the injury to 3-year starter, Felipe Franks. Franks will be out for the remainder of the season with a broken ankle, and backups Kyle Trask and Emory Jones will be called upon to run the offense.
With a home game against a 1-2 Tennessee next, then a visit from Towson, the Gators have time to get the offense resituated before a four-game stretch against Auburn, LSU, South Carolina, and Georgia.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers- The Bucs came away with a big division win on Thursday night at Carolina. The Panthers had owned the Bucs with Cam Newton who had a 9-4 record vs. the team before this loss. The Bucs offense did just enough and let the defense do the rest.
The new-look Bucs defense under coordinator Todd Bowles has been one of the bigger surprises in the entire NFL so far. With a date with the Giants and rookie Daniel Jones, the Bucs could potentially feast on the young quarterback in his first career start.
Miami Hurricanes- The Canes finally got a win in 2019. After losing the first two games by a combined 7 points, they beat Bethune-Cookman 63-0.
QB Jarren Williams continues to improve game by game, and the rushing attack had another good performance. The Canes will play host to a former employer of Dan Enos next week, when Central Michigan comes to town. Following that, the Canes get right back into conference play with home games against Virginia Teach, Virginia, and Georgia Tech.
FAU Owls- The Owls final played a team not ranked, and it resulted in the first win of the season. FAU took down Ball State 41-31 on the road. QB Chris Robinson tossed four touchdowns and had 366 yards passing. Larry McCammon III had 99 yards rushing and had a touchdown of his own.
John Mitchell had a monster game of 8 catches for 124 and three touchdowns. The Owls will get Wagner next before getting into conference play.
UCF freshman QB Gabriel already bringing home honors
If there was any chance for a two-quarterback system to continue at UCF, that appears to be answered already.
With Brandon Wimbush and Darriel Mack, Jr., both trying to gain playing time, true freshman Dillon Gabriel put a stronghold on the spot.
For the first time, this season the Knights started the same QB as the week before, and it seems like it will be like this for the foreseeable future. Gabriel, who shredded the Stanford defense Saturday, has the accolades coming in and was named Co-Offensive Player of the Week for the AAC,
Two players share this week's @American_Conf Offensive Player of the Week honor:
Dillon Gabriel of @UCF_Football threw four TD passes in the win against Stanford.
— American Football (@American_FB) September 16, 2019
Gabriel was also was named Walter Camp Foundation Offensive Player of the Week after leading the Knights to a win over the Cardinal by completing 22/30 of his passes for 347 yards and 4 touchdowns.
He was able to hit for TD throws of 28 yards to Marlon Williams, 38 yards to Tre Nixon, 38 yards to Gabriel Davis and 1-yard to Jake Hescook.
UCF scored at least 30 points for their 29th consecutive game – the longest streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 1936. They also won their 27th consecutive regular season game on Saturday.
Gabriel continues to follow in fellow Hawaii phenom, Mckenzie Milton’s footsteps. From the same town and school as the UCF quarterback, he is on the path with the awards. Milton, who was the American Player of the Year in 2018, but suffered a horrible career threatening injury in November, is helping Gabriel adjust to college and leading the Knights.
By the way, Gabriel is the fourth UCF player to receive Walter Camp National Player of the Week honors, since 2004, and the first since quarterback Milton.
If Gabriel is going to be the starter going forward, and barring injury, it looks like he will, we can expect more performances like this leading Josh Heupel’s high-powered offense.
He will get another test next week on the road against another Power 5 opponent in Pittsburgh in a game that will also be televised to a lot of the country on ABC.
Florida Gators5 days ago
Gators lose QB Feleipe Franks to horrific leg injury
Tampa Bay Buccaneers1 week ago
Bucs already shuffling roster on short week
Miami Dolphins3 days ago
Report- Dolphins could have Minkah Fitzpatrick deal by Tuesday
Florida State Seminoles5 days ago
Clock controversy punctuated latest FSU collapse Saturday