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We Are Watching UCF’s Best Offense Ever

The numbers agree, but can they keep the pace in the final three games?

UCF’s Josh Heupel and Dillon Gabriel
Josh Heupel and Dillon Gabriel
Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Regardless of what you think about the outcome of the 2020 season, we need to sit up and take notice of the fact we’re watching history on the field every time UCF plays.

This might be the greatest offense in UCF Knights history.

Fans might be surprised to know that this team is eclipsing even the fabled 2017 Knights as an offensive juggernaut. With just three games left, two of which at home, UCF has a chance to shatter records held by some of the greatest teams and players in school and even NCAA history.

Team Records

The UCF Knights’ offense is on pace to break the NCAA all-time record for total offense.

Through six games, the Knights are #1 in total yards per game (652.5) and #1 in passing yards per game (417.7). The NCAA record is 640.1 by Mississippi Valley State in 10 games in 1984. Valley was led by Jerry Rice that season.

University of Houston Cougars vs Texas Christian Horned Frogs
Andre Ware won the Heisman Trophy in 1989 leading Houston to FBS record in total offense.
Photo by Jo Patronite/Allsport/Getty Images

The FBS record is 624.1 yards per game by the Houston Cougars in 1989, who were led by Heisman Trophy-winning QB Andre Ware. The Cougars were on probation that season, so they were not eligible for a bowl game and only played 11 games.

The Knights are on pace to shatter the school record for total offense, which was set last year with 540.5 yards per game. This season UCF is averaging 7.2 yards per play. The single season school record is 7.5 in 2017.

UCF is averaging 45 points per game (4th in the NCAA), which is currently the second-most in program history behind the 48.2 in 2017 (1st in the NCAA). If this offense continues the pace, it will be in a big debate with the 2017 offense as the best in Knights history.

Those are some of team records the Knights are chasing in 2020. But two other reasons that the 2020 UCF offense might be the best in program history are Dillon Gabriel and Marlon Williams.

Dillon Gabriel

Tulane v Central Florida
Dillon Gabriel chasing UCF records in 2020
Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images

Dillon Gabriel has thrown for 2,506 yards (1st in the NCAA) with 21 touchdowns (1st) and just two interceptions.

Gabriel has already broken UCF’s single-season and career records for most 400+yard passing games, having done it four times. He also set the program record for most passing yards in a game with 601 at Memphis.

Gabriel can still add some more season records to his belt in 2020. If UCF plays 10 games, Gabriel would be on pace for 35 touchdowns and 4,177 yards. He is on pace to shatter the TD/INT ratio record and throw the fewest interceptions in a single season by a full-time starter.

Here are some of the other UCF records that Gabriel is chasing:

  • Passing Touchdowns - 37 by McKenzie Milton in 2017
  • Total Touchdowns by QB - 45 by McKenzie Milton in 2017
  • Passing Yards - 4,037 by McKenzie Milton in 2017
  • Passer Rating - 179.29 by McKenzie Milton in 2017
  • Total Offense by QB - 4,650 by McKenzie Milton in 2017

Keep in mind that Milton set those records in 13 games. Gabriel’s passer rating is currently at 169.66, which would be third best all-time at UCF behind Milton’s 2017 record season and Duante Culpepper’s 170.24 in 1998.

There have only been two quarterbacks in the history of the program to have over 4,000 yards of total offense: Milton, who holds recod in 2017 with 4,650, and Culpepepper, who had 4,153 in 1998. Culpepper played 11 games. Gabriel is on pace for 4,370 yards.

Milton and Culpepper are also the only two UCF quarterbacks who have combined to throw and run for 40+ touchdowns in a single season, with Milton holding record with 45 in 2017, and Culpepper with 40 in 1998. Gabriel is on pace for 37, which would be third-most ever in a season.

Do not expect Gabriel to be in the mix for many national quarterback awards, as most likely Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields, Alabama’s Mac Jones, Florida’s Kyle Trask and BYU’s Zach Wilson will dominate the nominations.

The question is can Gabriel finish in top ten in Heisman Trophy voting. Three UCF players have finished in top ten with Culpepper finishing 6th in 1998. Milton, Culpepper and Kevin Smith all tied for best finish by a Knight, all finishing 8th in the Heisman voting.

Gabriel is the front runner for AAC Offensive Player of the Year, beating out SMU’s Shane Buechele, but he is not the only UCF player chasing records on offense.

Marlon Williams

Tulane at UCF
Marlon Williams is chasing UCF records for receptions and yards in single season
Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Marlon Williams currently has 59 receptions (2nd in the NCAA) for 840 yards (1st) and 6 touchdowns (5th). Williams is on pace for 98 receptions for 1,400 yards and 10 touchdowns. Here how those projections compare to UCF single season records.

  • Receptions: 90 - Mike Sims-Walker in 2006 (12 games)
  • Receiving Yards: 1,241 - Gabe Davis in 2019 (12 games)
  • Touchdown Receptions: 14 - Bret Cooper in 1992 (10 games)

Williams is on pace for the greatest season any UCF wideout has ever had. He could break the single season record in receptions and yards - and do it in two fewer games!

What’s even more remarkable about what Williams is doing is that even if UCF only ends up playing nine games, he would still be on pace to break the record for receiving yards (with 1,260) while having 89 receptions, which would tie him with Tyson Hinshaw (2000) for second-most in a single season, even while playing two fewer games than Hinshaw.

Williams also may share another UCF record with a teammate, as currently he and Jaylon Robinson have combined for 1,549 yards. They are on pace for 2,581 combined yards, which would break UCF’s record for most combined yards by a WR tandem, which is currently held by Doug Gabriel and Jimmy Fryzel, who combined for 2,363 yards in 2002, playing 12 games.

So we are watching a potentially historic UCF season on offense, and depending on how you judge offenses, it could go down as greatest ever in program history.

Which offense was better? I personally give the edge to 2017. Gabriel’s 2020 season is on pace to be right with Milton’s 2017 and Culpepper’s 1998 season as the greatest any Knight quarterback has ever had, and possibly a top five season of all-time overall. And Williams is on pace for the greatest season any Knights receiver has ever had.

It’s just a question of how these last three (and maybe four) games work out, starting with Temple on Saturday.