The UCF Knights have certainly gotten back on track with a three-game win streak, including burying houston 44-29 Saturday. And, as the season is rapidly coming to a close, conversations about job flirtations for second-year Coach Josh Heupel has heated up.
This includes former Oklahoma QB turned instant offense coaching guru being linked to the brand new Florida State opening after the Seminoles fired coach Willie Taggart Sunday.
Huepel met with the media prior to UCF’s practice Monday and was asked about the flattery of being mentioned for high-profile jobs:
LIVE with Coach Heup at his Monday presser before we battle Tulsa on Friday https://t.co/REkVNmKxJM
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) November 4, 2019
“Man, I love where I’m at (UCF). I love the guys that I am with. My wife and kids absolutely love living here and being a part of this University and this program. I think this may be the most unique job in college football just because of how young a program it is. And, being able to continue to build something.”
It is a typical tactic for coaches under consideration for other high-profile jobs. to use the standard “I’m happy where I am,” and “why would I want to be anywhere else?” approach that Heupel did with that answer to the Orlando media.
But, the fact is the ACC would be a huge step up from the American Conference in terms of profile, budget and pay. And, obviously Florida State is one of the iconic programs of the last 30-plus years of college football.
So, the intrigue continues.
Heupel came to UCF two years ago replacing Scott Frost, who was wooed to his alma mater, Nebraska. This was after having lead the Missouri offense, as coordinator and quarterback Drew Locke to a record-breaking 2017 season.
And, in year one Heupel followed up what Frost/UCF had done the previous year by the Knights having a perfect regular season in 2018 and winning the American Conference Championship Game for the second straight year at home over the same opponent, Memphis.
Unfortunately, the Knights did not complete the perfect season as LSU beat them in the Fiesta Bowl.
Heupel also agreed to a new five year contract at the end of last season, and the terms of that deal are not fully known. However, his previous contract had a massive $10 million buyout in the first two years. It’s not clear on what the number is now, on the new deal.
This year the Knights have taken two losses at Pitt and to Cincinnati. And currently, UCF is on the outside looking in to three-peat as Conference Championship game winners.
However, led by freshman left-handed quarterback, Dillon Gabriel their warp speed offense has continued to riddle American Conference opponents. And, he would be very attractive for FSU or anyone else that’s been watching Heupel successes.
So, now we wait to see how interested FSU or others will be in trying to lure him
USF and UCF got American Conference 2020 schedules Tuesday
On Tuesday afternoon the American Athletic Conference made official is 2020 football dates for opponents for its conference members. And, that means UCF and USF got to look for the first time at their full conference slates and when they are playing whom.
First for the Knights, they learned that they will open year three of coach Josh Heupel’s conference play on Thursday night September 24th at East Carolina. It is one of three stand-alone weeknight(day) games UCF has on their schedule.
The next one will be Friday night October 16th, as UCF travels to play the Memphis Tigers. That’s a team that the Knights defeated for two Conference Championship Game victories in 2017 and 18.
— American Football (@American_FB) February 18, 2020
UCF will also play a traditional “War on I-4” game with the rival Bulls on the Friday after Thanksgiving November 27th. This will be the fourth straight year of playing on “Black Friday.”
As for the Knights other part of the league schedule, they will have their AAC home opener with Tulsa on Saturday October 3rd and then, finish the slate with two huge home matchups with Temple Saturday November 14th followed by Cincinnati at Spectrum Stadium the following week.
For the Bulls, who welcome first year coach Jeff Scott in 2020, they will only have two standalone appearances in conference play. Those will be a Friday night home game October 23rd with Tulsa and then, the previously mentioned final rivalry game with UCF on Friday November 27th.
The Bulls first conference game of the season will be at Cincinnati on October 3rd, while the home opener is East Carolina the following week at Raymond James Stadium.
USF has a tough road slate beginning at Temple on October 17th and then, after the Friday night home game with Tulsa, playing at Memphis November 7th and at Houston November 14th.
The conference is playing 2020 with only 11 members, as UConn has departed and gone back to the Big East. This will also be the first time that the AAC doesn’t play a two six team division format and will instead take the top two ranked teams in conference play for it’s December Championship Game.
Speedy former UCF RB Killins looks to impress at Shrine Bowl
One-player eager to start showcasing himself Saturday afternoon in the pre-draft process in St Petersburg is former UCF speedster RB, Adrian Killins.
Killins ,who just finished four years of highlight runs and touchdowns for the the Knights will participate in the East-West Shrine Bowl.
— East-West Shrine Bowl (@ShrineBowl) December 2, 2019
Killins is generously listed at 5’9 and 165 lb. and came UCF without much fanfare from Daytona Mainland High School. However, he had been an explosive player on the football gridiron, and he was also a former two time 3A State 200m track champion before coming to Orlando.
Once at UCF in 2016, Killins immediately showed off his explosiveness and moniker of “fastest player in college football” with a 100-yard kickoff return at ECU and an 87 yard touchdown run at “the Big House” in Ann Arbor against Michigan.
His best season was his sophomore year, when he was named First Team All American Athletic Conference RB, as he rushed for 790 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead UCF. He showed versatility and caught another additional 25 passes for 169 yards.
He also set a UCF record for longest play from scrimmage that still stands, in the UCF regular season win over Memphis, as he took a handoff and the looked like a missle racing down the sideline:
Longest run in @UCF_Football history ✔️
Longest run in @American_FB history ✔️
2nd-longest in NCAA this year ✔️
— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) October 1, 2017
Killins helped the Knights experience their greatest season ever at 13 – 0 with not only a thrilling double-overtime conference title game rematch win over the Tigers, but a New Year’s Day upset of SEC Powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl for the perfect season.
His next two years under Josh Heupel and his new coaching staff were not as spectacular. But, he still he would make the occasional explosive run and finished his career with over 1,700 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns.
He did leave a final impression with his 115 yards and 1 TD in the regular season finale with USF.
Now, he knows that with his smaller size, even with blazing speed, he will be challenged to stick on an NFL roster, and another way might be as a kick returner. Killins left UCF with a career 21.8 avg on 47 returns as a Knight.
He will likely need to show that part of his game to help him get a realistic shot at the next level. And, we wait to see if there will be explosive plays from him Saturday.