With basketball season over, fans are clamoring for football season to begin.
Well, Knight Nation, won’t have to wait too long... sort of.
Although the Knights don’t kick off against Florida A&M until August 29, they will take part in their annual Spring Game this Saturday at Spectrum Stadium. A lot will look different for the Knights in 2019. With 25 faces from last year’s team leaving the program, the new-look Knights head into Year Two of the Josh Heupel era.
Here are three things to watch:
The Quarterback Battle
McKenzie Milton will not play in 2019.
As sad as that sentence is, it’s the truth. The Knights will have someone other than Milton under center for the upcoming season. But that does not equate to a lost season, since the Knights have several options to replace KZ. The question is, who?
Darriel Mack, Jr.
The easy decision is probably to continue rolling with Mack Jr., the MVP of the AAC Championship and starting QB for the Fiesta Bowl.
DJ has the most familiarity with the system, but might be the weakest passer out of all the options. He can definitely run, but he’ll need to make progress into becoming a more well-rounded QB if he wishes to start for the Knights in 2019.
Wimbush transferred from Notre Dame after an injury-filled 2018.
In 2017, Wimbush scored a school record 30 total touchdowns for Notre Dame — 14 on the ground and 16 in the air.
Wimbush is the favorite to win the job as he has been practicing with the first team, but he has not clinched it; he just has a seat at the table.
While it is very likely that Miliani HS quarterback Dillon Gabriel redshirts this season, he cannot be ruled out of winning the job either.
Gabriel is already on campus working with his receivers and he is Coach Heupel’s first QB recruit.
He might also be the most talented, able-bodied QB in the quarterback room this season. If McKenzie Milton started as a true freshman, there’s no reason Gabriel cannot do the same.
I think he has some work to do to get to the top of the depth chart, but it starts with a strong showing in the Spring Game.
The Defensive Front Seven
Titus Davis, Trysten Hill, Joey Connors and Pat Jasinski were all big parts of the pass rush for UCF last season.
With the quartet gone, huge holes must be filled at each of the pass rush positions.
The freshman class is deep on the defensive line, but none of them come to campus until the summer, so now is the time for players like Randy Charlton and Brendon Hayes to solidify their spots for 2019.
Look for Eriq Gilyard to fill Jasinski’s spot at middle linebacker, as he might be the most natural fit for the Knights at the position.
The Offensive Line
The O-Line lost starters Tyler Hudanick and Wyatt Miller over the offseason, meaning the trenches will look very different next season.
Seniors Jordan Johnson and Cole Schneider will continue to be the unit’s backbone, but they’ll have a different supporting cast surrounding them.
Keep an eye on Parker Boudreaux, who played sparingly after transferring from Notre Dame last season, but might be in line for a starting job.
What are you going to keep your eyes on at the game? Chime in in the comments below.