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UCF freshman QB Gabriel already bringing home honors

Jamil King

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

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.

UCF Knights

Final Power Rankings for 2019

Florida Football Insiders

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

It’s the final edition of our 2019 power rankings headed into the bowl onslaught and the final Sunday of NFL football. The teams at the top should look familiar, including two that have won their bowl game already. and the final three have definitely deserved to be moved up or into the final list.

Florida Gators – the Gators are prepping for Monday night’s Orange Bowl against the Virginia Cavaliers and will hold down the top spot in the power rankings to dnd season based on their overall consistent performance. A second straight 10-win year and also “New Year’s Six” bowl game validates the hire and the hard work of Dan Mullen, his staff and the players. You consider the Florida’s only two losses in the toughest college conference in land are to #1  LSU and rival Georgia, who won the East and is in the Sugar Bowl themselves.

So, it’s been a good season. Now, can they cap it off what they did a year ago with a Peach Bowl win over Michigan?

UCF Knights – As we wrote on Monday, they finished with a third straight 10-win season by hammering the Marshall Thundering Herd in the Gasparilla Bowl in Tampa. Freshman QB Dillon Gabriel (above) showed great poise, skill and potential for the future throughout the season. He threw two more touchdowns and ran for another, while being named the Bowl MVP.

UCF clearly has the arrow pointing up and has established itself, as the second-best program in the state behind the Gators.

FAU Owls- A great finish to the regular season, a Conference USA title game win and now, a Boca Raton Bowl win over SMU last Saturday brings the Owls to finish third on our list. Even though coach Lane Kiffin has departed to take over at Ole Miss, former USF, Oregon and FSU coach Willie Taggart slid-into Boca Raton and has a great chance to succeed right away.

Quarterback Chris Robison continued to play well throughout the close of season, including in the win over the Mustangs last Saturday. FAU won 10 games for the second time in three years and is deserving of this slot.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Even though the Bucs had their four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday by the Houston Texans, they still have played consistent, good football in the second half of the year and had gotten their record to 7-7.

Yes, QB Jameis Winston has been maddening with the interceptions, but also has been smashing single-game passing records and has been a key part of them being able to score/win games. But, after three more picks last week, Winston needs a good performance in the finale’ with the Falcons Sunday to quiet down the critics that the Buccaneers part with him after this season.

Tampa Bay’s defense under coordinator Todd Bowles has also approved, particularly their secondary where they have spent numerous premium draft picks over the last few years. A win Sunday would only be the third time this decade the Buccaneers don’t have a losing season.

Miami Dolphins – They come off a dramatic overtime win over the lowly Bengals last week in a game, where they collapsed but still found a way to win. It was their fourth one of the season after an 0 – 7 start and clearly the team is playing hard for coach Brian Flores and his staff at the end.

We are still puzzled as to why they insist on not playing QB Josh Rosen in these meaningless games, but it likely means GM Chris Grier and Flores have decided that Rosen is being cut at the end of this season and they will simply eat $4 million dollars in dead cap money.

Finally, the development of DeVante Parker hass continued as he went over 1,000 yards receiving last week and got a contract extension with a bunch of guaranteed money. And, while Miami does have numerous holes to fill, they have a chance to be a .500 team in 2020, if they keep trending in the right direction.

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UCF Knights

UCF uses fast start to blast Marshall in Gasparilla Bowl

Florida Football Insiders

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

The UCF Knights only had to come about an hour across I-4 to Tampa for their bowl experience this past weekend. And on Monday, they made the most of their short trip and hammered C-USA foe, Marshall, 45-28 to capture the Gasparilla Bowl. And in the process, UCF finished with 10 wins for the third straight year.

The Knights, out of the American Athletic Conference, had played in a “New Year’s Six” bowl game in each of the last two years, losing to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl last season, but upsetting Auburn in the Peach Bowl for a perfect 13 – 0 year in 2017.

However, if Monday was supposed to be anti-climactic for coach Josh Heupel’s club, they certainly didn’t show it, as right away they jumped all over the Thundering Herd.

Playing most of the first half in a steady rain, defensive back Richard Grant returned an interception 39 yards for a score in the first minute of the game. Then the Knights turned a Marshall fumble quickly into a Greg McCrae 26 yard touchdown run (above) and the game was 14-zip less than six minutes in.

Then, LB Tre-on Morris – Brash picked up this botched backwards screen pass and raced into the end zone and the rout was on:

Marshall tried to climb back into the game behind quarterback Isaiah Green in the third quarter, as he ran for one score and threw for another but it wasn’t nearly enough. Knights freshman QB Dillon Gabriel threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third score, himself, in the same third stanza.

By the time the quarter was over, UCF had pulled away for good and eventually won the game 48-25.

Gabriel, finished with 260 yards passing and the three total TDS  and was named the Gasparilla Bowl Most Valuable Player.

In securing their third consecutive 10 or more wins season, the Knights do get some consolation after having won the American Conference Championship in each of the last two years. And, Heupel clearly has a foundation in place for UCF to have widespread success in the coming years.

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