That asterisk in the title is necessary because we — the public — didn’t actually see anything. Thursday’s scrimmage, per usual, was closed off to anyone not associated with the UCF football program. So really, the title should read: “Here’s What We Were Shown on Twitter.” But that’s not nearly as click-baity. Ha-ha, fooled ya!
If you’re a nerd like me and are a fan of the YouTube channel Emergency Awesome, then you’re familiar with what I’m about to do. That channel often consists of Charlie Schneider showing the latest trailer for a comic book film or fantasy TV show and then breaking that trailer down frame by frame. Even though he basically points out things you know you just watched, it is mesmerizingly effective.
And if this still seems like a dumb idea to you, let me make two final points:
2. I’m aware that I am nit-picking through a heavily stylized, heavily edited, 60-second hype video from a PR branch of UCF football. I’m also aware that I am writing this on a night when Giants QB Daniel Jones was crowned as the king of New York after five preseason passes and where every UDFA rookie who did anything even remotely athletic against fourth-string scrubs is being labeled by beat writers as “special.” And I will adamantly defend that this is no more pointless than the myriad number of narratives that are crafted following Week 1 of NFL preseason games.
I’m not saavy nor patient enough to chop UCF’s video recap into a series of GIFs, so I’ll just post it in full and then list the notable timestamps below. OK, enough preamble.
NO. DAYS. OFF.— UCF Football (@UCF_Football) August 8, 2019
NO. PLAYS. OFF.
Scrimmage 1 pic.twitter.com/TWlN6wepB0
The beginning captures a bit of the calm before the storm. Guys suiting up, four-star freshman DL Tre’mon Morris-Brash feeling it, Jake Hescock talking to the other tight ends, a double point from defensive end Randy Charlton ... great. Let’s get to the football.
The first play we see has Greg McCrae galloping through a huge void on the right side while being pursued by linebackers Nate Evans and Eriq Gilyard. Wide receiver Tre Nixon blocks in front of McCrae, trying to shove junior college transfer cornerback Tay Gowan out of the way. Interesting to see Gowan out there with what looks like the first team, but more on that later.
DON’T HURT GREG MCCRAE, PLEASE!!!!
Looks like D-linemen Brandon Wilson and Cam Goode on the stop. Goode redshirted as a freshman last year at Virginia Tech, and I’m not sure if he’s eligible yet to play for the Knights.
Right tackle Josh McMullen begins to pull as quarterback Quadry Jones gives an inside handoff to true frosh running back Damarius Good, who is promptly crushed.
We knew the three quarterbacks would each get some amount of time with the starters during this scrimmage, but we’ve got Jones here playing with the backups. We’re not going to get any clear answers about UCF’s QB hierarchy when we talk to Josh Heupel on Saturday, but as long as I’m overanalyzing stuff, here’s a question:
Should we read into this at all?
Came from the bottom and still there... pic.twitter.com/JRJ3KGju5v— Quadry D. Jones (12)⚔️ (@QuadryJones) August 9, 2019
Next, we get our first real shot of a quarterback in action. It’s Wimbush rolling slightly to his left and heaving a deep ball while receiving some pressure from Gilyard and defensive lineman Landon Woodson, who is coming back from a knee injury. Defensive line coach Shane Burnham said last week that Woodson is running with the second-string line.
But let’s focus in on Wimbush. From the angle we’re given, it’s really difficult to see how close that pressure was to him. It looks like he has space to step up and through, but I don’t know. I bring that up because Wimbush clearly chucks this ball while flat-footed. It’s a fantastic showcase of arm strength, but you would like to see him step through the throw, obviously.
Just throw it up there — Gabriel Davis will go get it. Look at him high-point that ball and spit on the coverage from safety Richie Grant and cornerback Brandon Moore. What. A. Playmaker.
It is only a scrimmage in an empty stadium, but the shot of Heupel wearing the headset is what actually makes this feel like the real thing.
We get a glimpse into the future with a quick shot of wide receiver Jaylon Robinson. The Oklahoma transfer will sit out this season but is primed to be a huge weapon mostly out of the slot in 2020.
A close-up on Moore leads us into what looks like the play of the day — or at least the play of the day that made it into this video. He flies through the air to bat away a ball intended for Davis. The deflection is then picked out of the air by safety Antwan Collier. Feel free to guess which quarterback got stuck that INT. Granted, the ball was thrown behind Davis.
Redshirt senior wideout/tight end/special teamer Jacob Harris shoves off freshman DB James Tarver, who has earned some praise from coaches early in his first camp. And given the role Harris is going to have in this offense, it seems he is primed for a breakout campaign as well.
I can’t quite make out whom Cam Goode beats off the line to get pressure on Wimbush, but he absolutely blows through that O-line.
Also, the visual of Wimbush throwing over the middle of the field while basically jumping backwards and with a defender bearing down on him? Not great, Bob.
Wimbush’s completion percentage has hovered around 50 percent the past two seasons. Heupel was asked last week why he thought WImbush has struggled with his accuracy, and the head coach pointed to the fundamentals.
“Body position, first and foremost,” Heupel said. “If you want to be consistently accurate, it’s about getting your body in the right position.”
And yet, this video indicates twice that Wimbush still has a long way to go to master that aspect of quarterbacking.
Oh, hi, Dillon Gabriel!
The freshman slings it over the middle to Davis, who’s crossing in front of Collier and is wide open. Gabriel to Gabriel. The way this specific shot is edited while the ball is in flight, it looks like Gabriel’s throw and Davis’ catch are two different clips spliced together. But whatever; it’s a good-looking throw, it’s a fine catch, everyone’s happy.
Also, I immediately thought of this ... although Dillon delievered a better ball:
Harris provides a spring game redux with what looks like yet another TD reception. And is that DB Dyllon Lester on the coverage? Sure looks like an 18. He played in the first month of last season as a true freshman before a knee injury shut him down for the year.
The camera loves Brandon Moore and Gabriel Davis. Moore wins this round, getting his hand in front to knock the pass away. Man, open up the practices just so we can watch these two go 1-on-1 every day.
The in-game highlights conclude with another peek at Gowan. He keeps up pretty well with the speedy Tre Nixon and then glides through the air to record the breakup. Very cool shot.
And after seeing this second clip of Gowan locked up against a starting wideout, I do wonder what happened to Nevelle Clarke during all of this. I mean, we saw Brandon Moore, Richie Grant and Antwan Collier. I can’t even spot Clarke in the background anywhere.
One thing is for certain: I’ll soon probably be penning a feature of Gowan based solely off of one acrobatic play in a preseason scrimmage and my own hunch. Welcome to sports writing.
Redshirt junior linebacker Eric Mitchell: Full-team leader? Duly noted.
We wrap with Charlton applauding, and Goode showing that he is well-versed in the art of the “Kubrick stare.”
This video is sleek, fun and frenetic. It’s really something. I don’t know if what it contains is much of anything in the long run this season. But maybe if Tay Gowan or Cam Goode flashes on to the scene and surprises us all with his dominance, you can smgly state that you’ve seen it coming since the first scrimmage of training camp.