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Week 1 Checklist Review: 4 Answers From UCF vs. Florida A&M

On Thursday, we got our first look at the Knights’ newest starting QB, do-it-all offensive lineman and restructured defensive front

NCAA Football: Florida A&M at Central Florida
UCF offensive lineman Samuel Jackson (73) had a busy night Thursday against Florida A&M.
Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to Thursday’s scrimmage game versus Florida A&M, I listed four aspects that I was going to watch closely. So, let’s review how those four aspects unfolded, yeah?

1. Has Brandon Wimbush really improved his mechanics?

It was a mixed bag. Nothing created more agita among UCF Knights fans during the game than Wimbush’s misses on deep throws to open targets. However, I’m not going to be as harsh; I’ll give Wimbush more time to show that he can connect on those big plays. You know UCF is going to keep dialing them up, so we’ll see if he improves next week at FAU.

Wimbush still doesn’t step into throws as you would like. He’s got a huge arm, and it looks like he creates all of his power from his torso up. On the third play of the second quarter, UCF was at the Rattlers’ 7-yard line. Wide receiver Gabriel Davis ran a corner route in the end zone and walled off his defender. All Wimbush needed to do was put the ball near Davis and — touchdown.

Instead, Wimbush threw the ball totally flat-footed, almost as if he hadn’t finished coming out of his drop, and the pass sailed. UCF settled for a field goal. It’s those kinds of things that concern me more than the long incompletions.

Wimbush did have some really nice throws, including a long pass to the sideline between defenders to Davis. He showed full control of the offense and the scheme. He showcased better agility as a runner than I thought he possessed. And for as much as people are clamoring for Dillon Gabriel, he wasn’t perfect either. Granted, I think Gabriel’s TD toss to Otis Anderson in the first quarter was probably the best throw of the evening.

Let’s see what develops Saturday. But Wimbush’s footwork remains, as it was in fall camp, a work in progress.

2. How does Samuel Jackson look at left tackle?

He looked very good — but so did most everyone else in a 62-0 victory over an abysmal team. It is honestly difficult to confidently assess the overall quality of a Knight from this game just because FAMU was absolutely brutal on every level.

But for what it was, Jackson looked fine on the left edge. However, I think his versatility was more impressive.

The redshirt sophomore took the first 11 snaps of the game at left tackle. At the 8:37 mark of the first quarter, he moved to right guard — the position where he competed against Parker Boudreaux in camp. He was there for a number of plays while Ole Miss transfer Tony Gray took over at left tackle.

Then when Dillon Gabriel entered the game, Jackson lined up next to Gray at left guard. He actually took more snaps at left guard than left tackle as guard Cole Schneider didn’t play after the 10:00 mark of the second quarter. Meanwhile, because of his ability to play almost anywhere along the line, I don’t think Jackson took a snap off before the half.

The O-line as a whole was fantastic at pass-blocking; the Rattlers had no sacks and just one QB hurry all night long. The run-blocking was not as superb, but there was plenty of room for error against such a weak opponent.

3. Who stands out among the defensive tackles?

FAMU’s offensive line completely whiffed on a double-digit number of blocks, so a bunch of Knights from that new-look defensive line stood out. Chief among them was Kenny Turnier, who got off the ball really fast a number of times to disrupt the offense. But Anthony Montalvo, Noah Hancock, Mason Cholewa, Cam Goode and Brandon Wilson all had their moments.

Maybe the most important takeaway from this group was that Turnier and Hancock were the starters. They took the field with starting ends Brendon Hayes and Randy Charlton for the first two drives before giving way to Goode and Wilson.

4. What will defensive end Dedrion Bacote-Sweat do?

Not much. I wanted to really see a lot of Dedrion, but he was on the field for just a handful of snaps in the fourth quarter, lining up at both right and left defensive end. He registered a hurry, but it looks like he is buried on the depth chart right now. I still have faith that he will make an impact with his pass-rushing ability this year.