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UCF freshman QB Gabriel already bringing home honors

Jamil King

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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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,

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.

Jamil King is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

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UCF Knights

UCF trying to regain form part of our college primer

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The theme for week 8 is redemption for some teams like: Florida State, Florida, and UCF, while South Florida and Miami will look for some continued success.

The Gators are coming off of their first loss of the season even though they played one of their best games of the season. With LSU now behind them, the time now is to focus on South Carolina. The Gamecocks are coming off one of their best wins since the Steve Spurrier era defeating Georgia last week. The Gators will look to avoid the same fate this week.

Ryan Hilinski will start for USC after he was knocked out with a knee injury last week. Coming off his best performance of the season minus the crucial interception Kyle Trask will need to do it again. The South Carolina offense did just enough last week to get the win this time around the Gators offense should put up more of a challenge than the Bulldogs did. If the Gators can get consistent offense like they did last week, they should be heading into the Cocktail Party with a win.

The Seminoles are coming off a gruesome loss to Clemson. After back to back wins, some thought the Noles were turning things around and might compete with the Tigers for a little bit. Well, those people were wrong as the Noles got rolled by the score of 45-14. Now the Noles will prepare to take on an upstart Wake Forrest team coming off their first loss of the season.

Wake could be without star QB Jamie Newman and will turn to Sam Hartman. Meanwhile, the Noles don’t even know who will be under center for their team when the ball is kicked off at 7:30. The Noles do have Cam Akers, though, and the Decans have had their fair share of issues stopping opposing running backs. Expect the Noles to feed Akers early and Often.

The Knights are in new waters this year. They have already lost two games this season, and all eyes will be on how they respond. UCF will be back at home for a night Homecoming game against ECU. No better time for the Knights to bounce back than at home where they still haven’t lost at. Expect the whole offense to bounce back, especially QB Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel (above) is still just a freshman, and growing pains are to be expected from the first year QB. Look for him and Gabe Davis to reestablish the reliable connection for another score.

The Hurricanes will look to win their second game in a row when Georgia Tech rolls into town. The Jackets have struggled this season to a 1-5 record, and the Canes are looking to make it 1-6. N’Kosi Perry will get the start for the second consecutive week. With Perry in the Canes seem to be working the ball downfield more and really trying to utilize Jeff Thomas more.

The duo will get a few chances to strike against tech in this contest. DeeJay Dallas has been held under 100 yards in three straight games, but he has an excellent opportunity to break that spell as well.

The South Florida Bulls will head up to the Naval Academy and try to win their second in a row. After an awful start to the season, USF is still playing catch up and trying to at least hit the six-win mark. With the schedule getting tougher and tougher, it will be hard.

The Navy is led by its triple-option stack that is spearheaded by Malcolm Perry. Perry has been a force this season on the ground as expected, but he has shown his arm off a few times this season as well.

For USF to win this game, though, they will need more from the passing game and Jordan McCloud. If he can generate some offense other than Jordan Cronkrite running in a game where possessions will be valuable, the Bulls have a chance.

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UCF Knights

Zemek- “UCF magic”only over for 2019

Matt Zemek

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Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I said Saturday morning after the loss to Cincinnati that there was a need to address both the short-term and long-term situations facing the UCF Knights. Saturday morning was the immediate autopsy of a game – and season – which got knocked off track.

This column is meant to address the much bigger picture surrounding UCF.

One sentiment voiced Friday night was that UCF’s run is over. UCF is no longer “a thing.” UCF is no longer relevant.

If any of those commentators or college football fans were talking about 2019 alone, they are correct. UCF has been damaged too greatly and has too flawed a team to realistically stay in the Group of Five “New Year’s Six” bowl chase. Boise State would have to lose twice. Cincinnati would have to lose twice. Memphis would have to lose twice… and even then, UCF wouldn’t be in the clear.

The Knights’ chances aren’t TECHNICALLY finished, but they literally need every possible break – not most, but all – to fall their way over the next two months. That isn’t realistic. The 2019 campaign has been thwarted, even if the AAC championship isn’t entirely out of reach.

If you want to say the UCF hype and magic are over this year, fine. I can certainly accept that.

If you are referring to any period of time beyond 2019, get lost.

This program isn’t going anywhere.

Can we stop for a moment and realize how much horrendous luck the Knights have endured? McKenzie Milton got hurt. Darriel Mack got hurt. UCF’s defense – as I noted Saturday morning – played more than well enough to beat Cincinnati on the road. The Knights’ defense doesn’t need to be spectacular; it needs to be solid, relative to what Josh Heupel expects from his offense.

In 2017 and 2018, UCF’s defensive effort at Cincinnati would easily have been strong enough to win, and win decisively. In 2019? Dillon Gabriel and his receivers, AND his offensive line, were not good enough in concert with each other. They all suffered their share of failures.

If one person or unit did well, the other units didn’t finish the play. With Milton or Mack in there, the odds of such a red-zone disaster would have decreased sharply.

Now imagine a 2020 season without quarterback injuries. All the speed Scott Frost and Josh Heupel have recruited into the program will still be there. UCF has a solid foundation. This program isn’t going anywhere… which leads us to the program which blazed a trail for UCF (and yet doesn’t want UCF to succeed, for obvious reasons).

Before there was UCF, there was Boise State.

The Broncos did what UCF did, only better. (This is not a negative commentary on UCF, just to make sure no one gets the wrong idea.) Boise State played elite non-conference opponents early in the season and defeated them. The Broncos put themselves in position to contend for the national title.

Remember: Boise State went unbeaten in 2009 and defeated a higher-ranked opponent – TCU – in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl than the opponent UCF defeated when the Knights handled Auburn in the 2018 Peach Bowl.

The Broncos also would have played in the 2011 Rose Bowl had their kicker not missed a chip shot at Nevada on the Friday after Thanksgiving. TCU took the spot Boise State relinquished.

UCF rose to a very great height in 2017, but Boise State rose higher in 2009.

That run for the Broncos 10 years ago was not the product of uninterrupted dominance.

In 2007, Boise State lost three times, once by 12 points to WAC champion Hawaii and once to East Carolina in a bowl game.

If people thought Boise State was “over” – not just in that particular year, but for the long haul – they were sadly mistaken.

The Broncos delivered unbeaten regular seasons in 2008 and 2009. They didn’t lose more than one game in the next four seasons after their 2007 stumble.

Will UCF be as dominant as that? No one knows. Just realize that UCF being “over” is a 2019-specific thing, not a long-term reality.

The Knights have stockpiled too much talent to be wished off the stage by college football elitists.

UCF will be back. Mark it down… but not this year.

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