The Key To UCF's Season Is...

Bad Boy Mowers Gasparilla Bowl - Central Florida v Marshall

Imagine if at your workplace you did something wrong and someone got on a sound system and told everyone what you did and made sure they all knew it was you? You wouldn't like it. Imagine the following:

"Attention. Attention everyone. Bob is the reason there are four blinking lights on the copy machine and because of his actions, we have to call in someone to fix it and the machine will be down for 2-4 hours. Again, Bob is responsible for the copy machine breaking down."

So is life for those who have a penalty called on them in pro and college football where we not only explain the reason for the penalty flag. We make sure you know who did it.

UCF will have a very good season this year if you don't hear a referee explain that one the Knight's offensive linemen has done something wrong. But the key for UCF is not just limited holding penalties, it's protection. It's keeping quarterback Dillon Gabriel upright and healthy.

The Knights have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball and there is not a single opponent on their schedule they cannot beat. But Gabriel must stay healthy. 

Of all positions at UCF, quarterback is where you look and wonder about "next up" if a starter goes down. When Darriel Mack Jr. opted out it left the Knights with little experience behind Gabriel. Quadry Jones originally left the team before returning and UCF is glad he did. Jones, most famous for his touchdown pass at ECU two years ago on his only play in 2018, has limited game experience and has been given many reps at practice to get up to speed. Jones can play. He has a good arm, is fast and his teammates respect him. Jones is 4-for-4 in passing in his career but again, it's just four passes. UCF's next two quarterbacks are true freshmen in Parker Navarro and Gaston Moore.

Dillon Gabriel had a great season as a rookie in 2019. He is more comfortable in his second season and set for an even better year. Statistically, Gabriel posted one of the best seasons ever at UCF. He threw for 29 touchdowns and over 3,600 yards. At home, the lefty had 25 TD passes and 0 interceptions. On the road, Gabriel threw four touchdowns and seven picks. UCF lost their three games last season, all on the road, by a combined seven points.

Gabriel has plenty of weapons to help. UCF is loaded at running back with the versatile Otis Anderson along with Greg McCrae and Bentavious Thompson. Knight fans will want to watch for Johnny Richardson. The 5-foot-7 freshman is lightning quick. Richardson averaged 12.4 yards a carry in high school. Lake Brantley's Damarius Good is another talented back who will be in the mix.

UCF lost Gabriel Davis to the Buffalo Bills, but there are plenty of pass catchers. Marlon Williams and Tre Nixon are back. Oklahoma transfer, Jaylon Robinson is very good. Keep an eye on freshman JaCyais "Stretch" Credle. At 6-4, Credle can get up and make a catch. There are many other young receivers ready to step up their roles.

On defense, UCF lost tackle Kalia Davis, who chose to opt out. While Davis is good, the Knights have rotated tackles the last three years and that is the case again. There is depth at end and second year player Tre'mon Morris-Bash looks to capitalize on a great rookie year. The Knights are strong at lineback and return both starting safeties. Cornerback is an area teams will test UCF. Keep an eye on true freshman Corey Thorton, who is a very talented rookie.

There's only nine games and many fans wonder why. It's not for a lack of trying. UCF lost games against FAMU, FIU and North Carolina. Danny White tried to add games and found few takers. There were only two P5 leagues playing a non-conference game and just look at who they scheduled. The UCF had dates that didn't match up with the few schools who had openings or they found schools not returning phone calls or emails. The reality is a 10th or 11th game doesn't really matter. Would fans and players(and broadcasters) like more games? Sure. But the goal for UCF is to win its league and get to a NY6 bowl. That is how UCF makes additional money this financially challenged season. It's not adding an additional road game with expenses or a home game with limited capacity. If the Knights can run the table in the regular season and win the AAC title game, it only needs to be ranked higher than champs from CUSA and the Sun Belt and based on current rankings that would be the case. Win those 10 games and you play in a major bowl. As for the playoffs...well, let's hope that is a debate to have in December...

Final thought: The first drive-thru restaurant is believed to be Red's Giant Hamburg, which opened in 1947 along Route 66 in Springfield, Missouri.

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