For the second time in eight months, UCF has lost a quarterback to injury. The team announced on Wednesday that Darriel Mack suffered a broken ankle and will not be ready for training camp.
The redshirt sophomore had stepped in for the injured McKenzie Milton last season, leading the Knights to a 3-1 record, including a conference championship and a narrow loss to LSU in the Fiesta Bowl. It’s unclear if he will be able to play at any point during the upcoming season, but UCF is obviously in need of a starting quarterback.
Heading into training camp, the team has three options: transfer Brandon Wimbush, true freshman Dillon Gabriel and redshirt freshman Quadry Jones.
Wimbush, a former Notre Dame starter, made waves earlier this offseason when he announced that he would join the Knights as a grad transfer. With Milton and Mack out of the picture for now, he is the clear frontrunner to start for the Knights. An incredibly agile and quick player, he led the Fighting Irish to a 10-3 record in 2017, before being replaced as the starter this past season.
While he is certainly a threat to get out of the pocket and pick up big yards on the ground on any given play, he lacks the throwing skill that Milton employed to make the offense so deadly over the last few years. Wimbush completed just 49.5% of his passes in his last season as a starter and threw 16 touchdowns that year. In the same year, Milton threw for 37 scores.
UCF has plenty of offensive talent to surround Wimbush with, and the team should be one of the best in the AAC regardless of who’s running the offense. But he has enough limitations that asking for another undefeated season, or even a New Year’s Six bid, may be a bit of a stretch this year.