Written by Garin Turner
The 2018 College Football season is a mere 24 hours away for the No. 21 UCF Knights as they travel to face the UConn Huskies in an ACC matchup 7 PM EST time on ESPN U. The Knights are coming off a 13-0 season, its first-ever perfect season. This is after going 0-12 in 2015.
The Knights have a new head coach this year as Scott Frost returned to coach at his alma mater, Nebraska. Enter Josh Heupel, a first-time head coach. He spent the last two years as the Missouri Tigers offensive coordinator and before that he held the same position at Oklahoma from 2011-14. “I’m excited to get out there and compete with our players. It’s week one for us. We’ve talked through the inevitable ups and downs that happen during the course of a 60-minute game,” head coach Heupel said.
This is the sixth meeting between the two teams with UCF ahead 3-2 including winning the last two games. The Knights have starting quarterback McKenzie Milton back after earning AAC Offensive Player of the Year, Archie Griffin National Player of the Year, AAC Championship Outstanding Player of the Game, and the 2018 Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl Offensive MVP award all last year. He also finished eighth in the Heisman voting. Milton threw for 4,037 yards and 37 touchdowns.
UCF led the league in scoring offense last year with 48.2 points per game. If they want to obtain the same success as last year, they’ll need some receivers to step up as leading WR Tre’Quan Smith is gone as well as Jordan Akins as they both declared early for the NFL Draft. Otis Anderson, Gabriel Davis, and Marlon Williams all caught multiple touchdowns last year. Dredrick Snelson caught 46 passes for 695 yards and eight scores.
Adrian Killins Jr was the leading rusher last year with 790 yards on 122 carries with 10 touchdowns. Anderson also serves as a running back, ran for 494 yards on 60 carries and four touchdowns. Taj McGowan and Milton also ran for eight scores.
On defense, the Knights had 20 interceptions last season which was good for second in the nation. Cornerback Mike Hughes is gone but safety Kyle Gibson is back who had four interceptions last year. Cornerbacks Brandon Moore and Nevelle Clarke, as well as safety Antwan Collier all had interceptions last year.
UConn was 3-9 last year including dropping their last five games. They averaged 159.8 yards a game rushing and were 41% on third down. “It is difficult, because they’ve had almost an entire calendar year to kind of change who they are,” Heupel said.
UCF returns home Sept. 8th to face South Carolina State.
UConn travels to take on No. 22 Boise State next week.