UCF has been the undisputed king of the G5 for two years now, having gone 745 days unbeaten with a 25-1 over the past two seasons with the only loss coming when their QB was out in a one-possession thriller to a great LSU team. QB McKenzie Milton is gone for good though, at least for this season, as he continues to rehab from the disgusting leg injury he suffered at the end of last year.
Despite the loss of Milton, this team is still stacked, especially on offense, and a third straight undefeated regular season isn’t out of the question.
Either last year’s backup, Darriel Mack Jr. or Notre Dame transfer Brandon Wimbush will start at quarterback. Mack was inconsistent, although he was thrown into the fire last year after Milton’s injury, facing USF, Memphis, and LSU. Mack has a higher potential, but Wimbush would at the very least provide a steady hand.
The rest of the skill corps is loaded. Speed demon Adrian Killins Jr. racked up nearly 1,100 yards last year combined rushing/receiving, and RB Greg McCrae put up an absurd 8.9 yards per carry (!!!) on 133 attempts last year.
The top two wideouts are back in Gabriel Davis and Tre Nixon. They combined for 11 touchdowns and nearly 1,400 yards last year. Slot man Dredrick Snelson is gone but he will be replaced by one of two speedy juniors in Marlon Williams or Otis Anderson. Jonathon MacCollister comes in from Notre Dame at tight end.
On the line, three starters are back, all of whom were 1st team all-conference last year between C Jordan Johnson, G Cole Schneider, and T Jake Brown. Texas A&M/JUCO transfer Trevor Elbert joins the line, and former Notre Dame guard Parker Boudreaux may step into a bigger role. They get a Kansas State transfer as well in Brett Bell, and bring in an awesome true freshman in Adrian Medley. The line may be the best in the G5 and this will likely be an offense that averages around seven yards per play again.
The offense took a step back last year but the defense took a slight step forward. The front seven, especially the line, is a little decimated for 2019 though.
Let’s start with the positives, and by that I mean the secondary. Brandon Moore and Nevelle Clark are back on the corners after being one of the best duos in the G5 last year, Richie Grant was a 1st team all-conference safety (three PBUs, six picks), and they add a Duke transfer in Jordan Hayes to fill in the other safety spot.
Brendon Hayes is back on the line, and that’s about it. The other projected starters are all underclassmen. A pair of JUCOs and VT transfer Cam Goode will try to fill holes in the two deep, but the line may be an issue.
On the second level, Nate Evans is back after an all-conference year, opposite him Bama transfer Shawn Burgess-Becker will get a chance to shine, and either VT transfer Aundre Kearney or highly touted sophomore Eriq Gilyard will start in the middle.
This defense loses a lot, but they also bring in a lot of solid P5 transfers and have talented guys to step into the roles of the missing players. The secondary will be the conference’s best, and this should be a solid unit.
Quarterback and the D-Line are two big issues, but (stop me if you’ve heard this before) the Knights are projected favorites in every regular season game, albeit some by small margins.
I don’t think UCF goes undefeated this year, but I most certainly wouldn’t be shocked if they did. Memphis in the AAC Title Game feels like a potential NY6 bowl decider.
|Date||Opponent||opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|7-Sep||at Florida Atlantic||79||5.3|
Average Projected Record: 9.0 wins, 3.0 losses (6.1 wins, 1.9 losses)