Sometimes when you lose, you still win.
It was an amazing Sunday night in Columbia, South Carolina, and once again, the UCF athletic department was on the national stage. The Knights basketball team came within a whisker of the upsetting powerhouse and National Title favorite Duke.
And it capped 18 months of massive recognition and accomplishment for the Black and Gold.
First, if you weren’t watching, here are the frantic final seconds with Knights down by a point with the chance to beat the top seed:
— NCAA March Madness (@marchmadness) March 24, 2019
Yes, it is paining UCF’s fans that they had not one, but two chances, to put in the winning shot to knock off the Blue Devils in advance to the “Sweet 16.” However, when the coach’s son, Aubrey Dawkins, had his tip in rim- out, Duke survived. America was still buzzing about the Knights and their near upset.
In fact, two hours after the game concluded, 5 of the top 10 trending topics in the United States on Twitter were related to the game and/or even, Dawkins and UCF 7′ 6 center, Tacko Fall.
Former Duke All-American, now UCF hoops boss, Johnny Dawkins, has put the Knights in the national conversation in just his third season.
And, this comes on the heels of back-to-back amazing football seasons that made UCF a “household name” in the college athletic circles.
The run started with Scott Frost and a perfect season that finished with UCF kayoing powerhouse Auburn in the Peach Bowl in January of 2018. It continued with first-year Coach Josh Heupel leading the Knights to another perfect season and second straight AAC Championship game win. Having upped the nation’s longest win streak to 25 straight games, the streak ended January 1st, when they were beaten by LSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Still, for all the ridicule of UCF celebrating as “National Champions” 13 months ago (and it’s deserved), the Knights have had massive increase in fundraising and interest for the University derived from it’s athletics teams.
Most importantly, you simply cannot put a price tag on all of the humongous nationwide attention/free media covderage the school has gotten because of these successes.
Yes, it was heart-break (see the photo of Dawkins being consoled at the top), but in Sunday night’s case, a near success (77-76) will still will have everyone talking Monday morning.
UCF WR Gabe Davis will turn pro
Next year’s UCF offense took a big hit Wednesday , but in the long run, the player leaving may help the program with more publicity at the next level.
Star wide receiver Gabriel Davis has decided to forgo his senior season and enter the upcoming NFL draft.
— Gabriel Davis (@DavisGB1) December 4, 2019
Davis is a true “Florida Boy” growing up in Sanford, and playingl ball at Seminole High school. He has been dominant in his time at UCF, has become one of the best wideouts in the state, arguably the best in his conference and one of the more underrated players in the country.
His numbers have improved each season. As a freshman, he had 27 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 53 catches for 815 yards and seven touchdowns. Then, this season Davis had 72 catches for 1,241 yards and 12 touchdowns.
Last season Davis finished on the American All-conference second team. This year, however, he finds himself on the first team and will hope the accolades don’t stop there.
Davis has all of the prototypical traits to be an “X” receiver in the NFL. He has the size at 6’3, but could work on his frame, getting up his listed weight at 212 pounds. In the passing league that is the NFL, teams are always looking for someone with big play ability. Davis is just that, averaging 16 yards a catch for his career.
He has the ability to take the top of a defense with his size and speed, which will intrigue scouts. One area of his game he will likely work on in the offseason will be running after the catch.
We all know his ability to kill you downfield, but scouts will also want to see what he can do catching a short pass. With an absolutely stacked class at the position, it will be interesting to see where Davis goes when the draft rolls around.
Already underrated being from an AAC school expect that to continue during draft time, but also expect him to rise to the occasion.
UCF blows out USF- is it the end for Charlie Strong?
It wasn’t an unexpected result, as UCF won for the third straight time in the rivalry matchup with USF, 34 – 7 Friday night in Orlando. The bigger question is: was it the end for third-year Bulls coach Charlie Strong?
First to the game. The Knights got what they needed in the first half, as freshman quarterback Dillon Gabriel led them on three scoring drives to build a 21 – 0 lead from which USF never recovered. Gabriel threw two touchdown passes to his favorite target this season, receiver Gabe Davis (above), and the lead grew to 24 – 0 at the half.
The same pattern continued with USF’s offense as has been the case for much of this season. The Bulls mounted a little to nothing offensively throughout the game until finally breaking through, when running back Johnny Ford scored on a fourth-and-goal late in the third quarter. That trimmed the lead to 24 – 7.
However, Backup QB Darriel Mack led the next Knights answer going 82 yards in 8 plays with Mack carrying two yards for UCF’s final TD of the evening and all but, putting the game away.
The win was UCF’s ninth on the season and they await to find out what bowl game the American Conference will slot them in. This is the first time in three years that the Knights have not played in the championship game of the American Conference. They won the previous two defeating the Memphis Tigers both times and ended up playing in a New Year’s Six bowl game each time, as well.
That included their loss in the Fiesta Bowl to LSU a year ago, which stopped their 25 game win streak.
Back to the Bulls, the loss was their fourth straight to end the year and Strong’s team limped to the finish line at 4 – 8. When you combine this season with losing the remaining six games a year ago, that’s 14 losses in the last 18 games played for Strong’s teams. Friday night was also the fifth loss by 27 points or more for USF this season.
So now, we all wait to see if USF Athletic Director Michael Kelly, who was hired last year, will get rid of the former Texas and Louisville coach or give him one final shot to turn it around in 2020?
Strong is reportedly owed at least $5 million for the remaining two years on his five-year deal that he agreed to in December of 2016.