UCF wrapped up spring ball on Saturday with its annual Spring Game, finally giving fans the chance to see in-person the quarterback battle they’ve heard so much about and how the many new transfer additions are fitting into the team.
So, of course, there were some dramatic overreactions. It’s what spring games are made for. It’s the only public bit of spring practice, so anything that happens in that game has its importance inflated and can fuel offseason narratives for months to come.
Which is why we’re going to go over the three biggest overreactions from Saturday’s spring game and explain why they may not necessarily be true.
1. John Rhys Plumlee has locked up the quarterback job
Plumlee’s stellar performance has by far been the biggest talking point of the spring game. According to the Orlando Sentinel, he completed 11 of his 15 pass attempts for 189 yards and four touchdowns.
Given that he has been viewed as a run-first QB with limited throwing ability his entire collegiate career, his performance came as something of a shock and quickly had fans declaring the quarterback race to be effectively over.
And he very well may win the job. If he can consistently throw the ball the way he did last Saturday and pair that talent with his known ability to make big plays happen with his legs, then he might be the obvious choice.
But there are two big things that fans have glossed over.
First off, Mikey Keene was far from bad on Saturday. He completed 21 of 28 passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns to one interception, looking night and day better than he did at the end of his freshman campaign. QB mobility is tough to judge when the players aren’t live, but he also looked far more comfortable leaving the pocket and buying time for plays to develop downfield. It won’t be easy to take the job from him.
And second, Plumlee’s spring game performance was in direct contradiction to his overall spring. He reportedly struggled with accuracy over the last month, including throwing multiple picks in a previous scrimmage. When speaking to the media, offensive coordinator Chip Lindsey said his biggest area of improvement needed to be giving receivers a chance to get their hands on his passes.
One excellent throwing performance doesn’t wipe out an overall rocky spring. Not only did Plumlee not lock up the job during the spring game, but the competition may very well carry into the first game of the season against SC State.
2. The wide receiver depth chart is set
One of the key storylines of spring ball was who would emerge as the No. 3 option at receiver. Ryan O’Keefe and Jaylon Robinson seemingly had the top two spots locked down, but there were several contenders to take over the third spot.
After the spring game, fans naturally gravitated toward Auburn transfer Kobe Hudson as that third guy. He had a great day, catching five passes for two touchdowns and over 100 yards.
Given that Hudson led Auburn in receiving yards last year, it wasn’t a huge surprise to see him perform well. But in the wake of one great performance, fans have understandably moved on from the fact that spring ball as a whole painted a different picture.
All indications from comments by both coaches and players throughout spring were that Jaylon Griffin had put himself in position to be right there with Hudson competing for that third spot.
Hudson undoubtedly had the better day on Saturday. But, much like the QB race, this is a competition that isn’t going to be decided over one scrimmage. As UCF looks to have strong depth this year after injuries derailed the 2021 season, both players will likely factor into the picture in 2022.
3. UCF’s defense could be in trouble
It’s the inherent problem with every spring game since the beginning of time: when one side of the ball looks good, you kind of have to start worrying about the other side.
And wow did UCF’s offense shine on Saturday. The entire afternoon seemed to feel like big play after big play, as the Knights wracked up yards and points. It’s natural to come away concerned about the defense, especially due to some poor tackling and a few huge runs.
But it’s important to remember that a spring game is just that – a spring game. Teammates aren’t going to go out there and try to hurt each other. The defensive play calling was unsurprisingly on the conservative side. The situation was set up for the offense to look good.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t concerns. Linebacker is a major area of worry and almost certainly needs to be addressed in the transfer portal. But on the whole, the defense will likely be just fine when fall rolls around.