Knights kickoff Season Thursday night against FIU

Written by Derek Robbie
​Orlando, FL – The UCF Knights host the FIU Golden Panthers Thursday evening at Spectrum Stadium with kick off starting at 6:00 p.m. ET.
The Knights’ faithful will be entering this season with more hope and expectations than prior years due to the progress under head coach, Scott Frost. Last year, in Frost’s first season as the head coach of the Black and Gold, he helped the team go from winless in the 2015 season to 6-7. UCF’s season first season under Frost saw them earn a bid to the 2016 AutoNation Cure Bowl at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium. This marked the first time a team went from winless to a bowl game since UCF went 0-11 in 2004 and then earned their way into the 2005 Hawaii Bowl.

The UCF Knights have sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton, who holds the UCF freshman record for completions, returning to lead a young group of quarterbacks. Milton completed 57.7 percent of his passes for nearly 2,000 yards and 10 touchdowns as a freshman, and will look to improve going into the 2017 college football season. Sophomore Running back Jawon Hamilton will look to carry the load in the Knights’ running game. Hamilton was UCF’s rushing leader in 2016 with nearly 500 rushing yards and four touchdowns. There are also familiar faces returning on the outside, as leading wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith comes back after five touchdowns, and tight end Jordan Atkins returns after a 23-catch campaign. On the defensive side of the ball, the Knights see leaders Shaquem Griffin (LB) who led the team with 92 tackles last season and middle linebacker Pat Jasinski who led the team with 3.5 sacks both returning to the team.

The FIU Golden Panthers have had their struggles in recent seasons, having won no more than five games each of the last five years. Though recent seasons have been bleak for Golden Panthers fans, this year they finally seem to have a reason to have hope since it is former University of Miami coach, Butch Davis’ first full season in charge. Davis looks to bring FIU to their first bowl game appearance since the 2011 season.

Coming into the 2017 season the Golden Panthers have experienced options in their backfield in senior quarterback Alex McGough and senior running back Alex Gardner, a combination that has shown flashes in the past two seasons. FIU also sees their leading wide receiver, Thomas Owens, who had seven touchdowns and averaged about 14 yards per reception. Defensive leaders that are returning for the Golden Panthers are junior outside linebacker Treyvon Williams who lead the team with 109 tackles last season, junior outside linebacker Fermin Silva who led the team with five sacks, and cornerback Isaiah Brown who led the team with three interceptions.

UCF’s next home game takes place on Saturday, September 9 against the University of Memphis at 8:00 p.m. ET at Spectrum Stadium. FIU’s next game is also on Saturday, September 9 as they host Alcorn State at 7:30 p.m. ET at Ricardo Silva Stadium.

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