UCF Football is off to its best start since 1988. After a blowout 51-23 win over conference rival Cincinnati this past weekend, the Knights moved from 25 to 22 in the AP Poll, and are heading into their homecoming game this Saturday against East Carolina (1-5, 1-1 AAC) with momentum.
Here Comes the Rain: So far this season, only one thing has been able to stop the UCF offensive from scoring… the weather. As if two weeks of not playing due to Hurricane Irma was not enough, the Knights’ game against Cincinnati was called in the third quarter due to inclement weather. But, before the storm, McKenzie Milton was having a career game. The sophomore quarterback threw for a career high five touchdowns on the night. His teammates were very vocal about the role he plays on the team.
“I feel like from the leadership standpoint he has taken huge steps in that,” junior running back Taj McGowan said. “That helped a lot with his confidence and you can see it on the field, I mean he’s firing on all cylinders, hitting all kinds of receivers, and we have got full trust in him.”
Milton has been a consistent force for the Knights, but every game it seems like a different player is able to take the game into his hands. Two weeks ago it was sophomore running back Adrian Killins, who totaled 179 rushing yards and two touchdowns on the night, including a record-breaking 96 yard run. This week it was red shirt junior Tre’Quan Smith, who had 165 yards, with three receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown.
“I just feel like we are prepared. I mean you never know when your number is going to be called and when it is I feel like we all have the ability to perform when that happens,” McGowan said. “Each week it’s somebody different and I feel like that’s just the mentality we have, we are all ready to step up when needed.”
Homecoming Hype: This week, the Knights prepare for ECU, a team that has struggled to keep their opponents from scoring all season. With a high-powered offense that has been successful all year, UCF is a 33.5 favorite to win the game. But, with a top 25 ranking putting a target on their back now, the Knights cannot afford to underestimate any team.
“Our guys understand that people are going to be coming at them, and we have to be at our best every week, especially in this conference.” Frost said. “I want to go against talking and acting like we have arrived. We are not there yet. We can still be a lot better, and I think that there is a lot of improvements to make and I want our guys to stay hungry.”
One of the biggest differences from this year’s team and last year’s is the chemistry that the players have. In games like the homecoming game, the players believe their bond will help lift them to success.
“With a year in the system and this being our second year I feel like we had a lot of time to just bond with each other, bond with the coaches, bond with the staff members, and I feel like it all just kind of brings in a great team, and great team chemistry, and you can see it on the field,” McGowan said. “I mean we play for each other now, those are my brothers out there, and I feel like we all take that approach.”
Space Game: Earlier this week, the Knights revealed the space-themed uniforms they will wear for Saturday’s “Space Game” and UCF fans seem to be very excited. The black uniforms feature helmet decals with a moon crater pattern and a stripe featuring stars that connect to create a Pegasus, as well as a space patch sewn onto the uniform. Although the uniforms seem to be creating a lot of buzz, the Knights are looking to stay focused on the ultimate end goal. With ECU allowing 50 points per game so far this season, UCF has the opportunity for its quick offense to shine once more.
“[We’re] gonna have a fun time Saturday night, basically that’s how I look at it as,” sophomore wide receiver Dredrick Snelson said. “But, we still not gonna sleep on them, they are still a good football team, and we will still prepare the same way but, 50 points…. We putting up 70.”