No. 21 UCF opened its 2018 season last Thursday with a 56-17 road win over UConn. The Knights started the Josh Heupel era by picking up right where they left off last season, extending their nation-leading winning streak to 14 games. After the team came back together for practice on Monday morning, Heupel and some of his players took the podium to speak with the media.
Robinson Recovering: The Knights got a scare on last Thursday’s opening kickoff when cornerback Aaron Robinson went down with an injury. The Alabama transfer stayed down on the field for several minutes and had his shoulder pads cut off before being carted off on a stretcher. When the team flew home after the game, he stayed overnight in a Connecticut hospital. Despite the scare, he is okay and should make his way back to the team in the coming weeks.
“He’s back in town [and] doing well,” Heupel said. “I saw him again here this morning and I think he’s definitely moving in the right direction and obviously we’re all thankful he’s going to be all right… We’re excited to get him back here eventually.”
Heupel said Robinson has a concussion. Brandon Moore and Eric Mitchell both spoke with him over FaceTime after the game and said he was in high spirits. Upon leaving the hospital for Orlando, the redshirt sophomore tweeted a thank you in response to the support he received:
Leaving UCONN health center, now I will be headed back to Orlando today. Wanted to thank everyone who reached out specifically UCONN head Coach Randy Edsall, his wife and their medical staff for coming to visit me in bed much appreciated! Thank you Knight Nation !#chargeon⚡️
— A.Rob!! (@humblearob) September 1, 2018
Milton Recognized: The AAC’s weekly honors were released on Monday morning, with UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton earning the fifth Offensive Player of the Week award of his career. In the victory over UConn, the junior completed 24 of his 32 passes for 346 yards and five touchdowns in addition to his 50 rushing yards. When asked about the recognition on Monday, Milton responded with praise for his teammates.
“It’s cool. I think it mean’s more to the team in the sense that it’s not my performance, it’s the team’s performance that reflects that,” he said. “The o-line, they kept me clean all game [with] no sacks. Tre Nixon, Gabe Davis, Dredrick Snelson, Otis Anderson, Adrian Killins… They’re out there making plays. It’s a reflection of the team and how they played.”
Any Given Saturday: The first college football Saturday of the season featured plenty of upsets and near-upsets. Utah State gave No. 11 Michigan State a scare, Appalachian State took No. 10 Penn State to overtime and Maryland upset No. 23 Texas. There were a couple of upsets around the AAC as well, with Temple on the wrong side in a loss to Villanova and Cincinnati on the right side with a win over UCLA.
“I think [in] college football, there’s a lot of parity,” Milton said. “You can get beat any day. You can’t overlook anybody. Guys have scholarships for a reason. They can play very good football. Day in and day out, you’ve got to come to work. If not, you can get beat.”
Not Looking Ahead: UCF hosts South Carolina State on Saturday in its home opener and will come in as a heavy favorite. Per ESPN FPI, the Knights have a 99.1 percent chance of winning on Saturday. It can be difficult for some teams to prepare for an FCS opponent the same way they would for a big FBS matchup, but Heupel is making sure his team doesn’t take the Bulldogs lightly.
“[We] don’t pay attention to the outside noise— positive or negative,” he said. “You’re only as good as your next performance in sports. [We] focus on that, focus on what controls how you’re going to perform, which is today. At the end of the day, we’re in a race against ourselves to become the best that we possibly can as fast as we can.”
Back in the Bounce House: This weekend’s home opener will be UCF’s first game at Spectrum Stadium since the AAC Championship Game last December. With all of the team’s success at home last year and the hype that built up all offseason, the atmosphere should be a good one when the Knights and Bulldogs kick off at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s tough to put into words. We love playing in the Bounce House,” redshirt senior offensive lineman Wyatt Miller said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been in there, since Memphis, and we’ve got some good memories in there. We’re looking forward to getting in front of [the home crowd] again and hopefully putting on a show.”