The 2020 UCF Knights college football season is officially in the rear view mirror, and thanks to our friends at the SB Nation mothership, we conducted an end-of-year survey of the fans to get their temperature on where the team stands in their eyes.
We sent out a special SB Nation Reacts link to all subscribers after the season ended. The questions were simple yes/no questions, like an approval rating.
If you would like to participate in future SBNReacts polls, please sign up at this link. We hope to have a lot more of you sign up and have your voice heard on UCF Football, Basketball and more.
On to the results:
UCF was once again one of the top offenses in the nation, and Dillon Gabriel has now firmly established himself as not only one of the best quarterbacks in college football, but one of the best signal-callers in UCF history.
Defense is where UCF struggled this year, and the numbers bore that out: UCF had its worst rankings on defense since Randy Shannon took over. But while it’s easy to point fingers, it’s also important to point out that the unit lost several key players due to opt-outs and an on-campus incident, and as a result, 12 players saw their first career starts on defense, most toward the end of the season.
UCF’s special teams struggled a tad, with the punt (74th) and kickoff return (50th) teams with an average showing, as well as the punt team (46th). But the most public shortcoming, according to the fans, was the field goal team, with Daniel Obarski missing a game-winner at Memphis, as well as three extra points and two other kicks from inside 30 yards.
UCF fans are on the fence regarding the coaching staff. On one hand, Josh Heupel and his team had no games missed due to COVID-19, which is a credit to their discipline. On the other hand, this was UCF’s first sub-10-win season since 2016.
UCF’s recruiting has been solid overall. Multiple members of the 2019 class contributed heavily in 2020, as did several members of the Knights’ 2020 class, with more expected to slide into the lineup for 2021. The talent level remains high.
The 2020 Season
High expectations are just as much of a curse as a blessing sometimes. On one hand, three of UCF’s four losses came down to one score. On the other, UCF did come up short in those games. On one hand, a winning season in a pandemic is no small feat. On the other, UCF was predicted by some (present company included) to go undefeated in the preseason and contend for a New Year’s Six bowl, and possibly a College Football Playoff spot. Obviously, it didn’t work out that way.
Expectations for 2021
Once again, expectations should be high for 2021. UCF is talented and returns a large number of players who saw heavy action in the latter part of the season. That experience should bode well for the Knights next year. However, there are a lot of factors outside their control that could throw that into doubt — not the least of which is how much spring and summer practice the Knights will have in the presence of COVID-19.
That will not temper the fans’ enthusiasm for 2021, however, and the Knights will be expected to improve upon their 6-4 mark from 2020 by not only Knight Nation, but also the experts.