Throughout fall camp, I asked UCF Knights some variation of this question:
What is something you don’t know right now that you are most looking forward to finding out this season?
Here are their responses.
Running back/Wide receiver Otis Anderson
“I just want to see how hungry the team is. We talk about it all the time, but when the lights come on and the first game starts, I believe we’ll be able to show the world, show the nation that we haven’t missed a beat, no matter what they feel.”
Safety Richie Grant
“There are two words: Battle tested. When stuff isn’t going the right way, how will we react as a team? That’s what we’ll find out a little bit more when we put the pads on.”
Wide receiver Marlon Williams
“Just how we’re going to compete this year. Last year, our thing was to go 1 and 0 every game. That is our goal this year, and I hope we’ll reach that goal
Hunger. Battle. Compete. Yes, you can’t underscore enough the importance of intangibles.
Also, it’s clear that these men have a future in coaching.
Wide receiver Tre Nixon
“Who’s going to be our guy? Who’s going to be the QB? Just as much as everybody else wants to know, we want to know, too, because it’s a battle right now. I’m confident in whoever it’s going to be, but ultimately, I want to know who is going to be that guy.”
Defensive end Brendon Hayes
“I can’t wait to see who gets that QB1 spot, to be honest with you.”
It’s comforting to know that Nixon and Hayes are just like the rest of us.
But we could have an official answer here very soon since fall training camp concluded last week. If they didn’t already, Josh Heupel must know who “that guy” is now, right? We’ll ask when we see him on Tuesday.
Linebacker Nate Evans
“I just want to see how this defense is going to turn out, because we’ve got so many weapons. ... We’ve got Nevelle Clarke, Bam (Brandon Moore), guys who I signed the letter of intent with. This is our last ride, so I’m putting it all on the line. I don’t care if I’ve got to go out there with broken bones. For my brothers, I’ll do it until they tell me to stop.”
Cornerback Nevelle Clarke
“I’m looking forward to everybody just getting better every day so we can be a better team. ... As far as last year, we’ve just got a couple of things to work on. Not too much, but once we get there, I feel like the defense is better than last year.”
It’s hard to believe that UCF’s offense will be as productive, as dominant this year just as it was in 2017 and 2018. So, yeah, this defense, which ranked 117th against the run, will have to be better. But listening to guys such as Evans talk about it, there is a real belief inside UCF HQ that will happen.
Center Jordan Johnson
“Playing against other teams in different conferences, seeing how we match up against them. No offense to any team in our conference, but we’ve won it the past couple of years, so we want to go out and win again and we want to see what other conferences are like, see how well they play over there. So, playing the ACC (Pittsburgh) and Stanford in the Pac-12, it’s going to be a lot of fun to play against other guys.”
I don’t think those non-conference matchups are the most important games on UCF’s schedule. But make no mistake: Those games mean a lot to the Knights. Even if they say during the practice week that it doesn’t matter, it’s just another game — and I’m sure some of them will — just know that inside, they are still looking to prove something versus teams from the autonomous conferences.
Running back Greg McCrae
“Honestly, I’m looking forward to all the running backs getting touchdowns. I’m going to be out there celebrating with every single one of them. That’s probably what I’m looking forward to: Every single one of our running backs getting into the end zone and being able to celebrate in front of Knight Nation.”
McCrae pondered the question for a solid minute or two. Ultimately, he may get his wish of celebrating with every RB — all six of them. You know that A LOT of players will get snaps in the second half of what should be a total blowout of Florida A&M next week.
Cornerback Brandon Moore
“Just how this team is different from the previous two years, from the team that only lost one game, from the team that didn’t lose at all. I’m just excited to see how this team is going to be different.”
This year’s team is different, absolutely. But if the results remain the same, I don’t think anyone will complain.