Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Introducing UCF’s New Football Coach, Gus Malzahn

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:36

Terry Mohajir, UCF Knights new Athletic Director, wasted no time in hiring a new football coach for the program after Josh Heupel left for Tennessee last month. Former Auburn Football Coach Gus Malzahn will take over the reigns of the program. Malzahn, a mega-successful Coach with a stellar career, will be paid $11.5 million over a 5-year period. Take a look at the hire analysis by CBS Sports, grading it an A+, below:

Monday, December 14, 2020

UCF Knights to Face #14 in Boca Bowl

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:47

The UCF Knights (6-3; 5-3 AAC) learned today they will face the #14-ranked Cougars of Brigham Young (10-1) in the Boca Raton Bowl next Tuesday (12/22) at FAU Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7:00pm and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN. The game will be the third time the Knights have faced off with the Cougars; the series is split 1-1, with UCF claiming the last victory 31-24 in 2014.

Per UCF Athletics (John Heisler):

UCF’s trip to Boca Raton, Florida, for the RoofClaim.com Boca Raton Bowl pits the Knights against 14th-ranked and once-beaten BYU.
UCF (6-3) and BYU (10-1) will square off at 7 p.m. Dec. 22 in FAU Stadium on the Florida Atlantic University campus in Boca Raton. ESPN and ESPN Radio will provide the coverage.
The Cougars will provide a major challenge for UCF in every phase of the game—with BYU ranking as the only team in the country to stand in the top 10 nationally in total offense (10th at 510.1 yards per game), total defense (10th at 308.9), scoring offense (eighth at 43.0 points per game) and scoring defense (third at 14.6). In addition, BYU boasts the top-ranked field-goal kicker in the nation (13 for 13 by sophomore placekicker Jake Oldroyd), and the Cougars rank 16th in net punting.
“BYU plays complementary football, in terms of offense, defense and special teams, as well as any team in the country,” says UCF head coach Josh Heupel. “This will be a tremendous challenge for our football team—and certainly one our players are excited about.”
BYU finished 10-1 (7-0 at home), with its only loss at unbeaten and ninth-ranked Coastal Carolina (22-17) in a game that ended with the Cougars on the Coastal Carolina one-yard line. BYU currently ranks 14th (AP) and 16th (coaches poll) and the Cougars ranked 18th last week in the CFP poll. BYU is one of only four FBS teams that have won at least 10 games so far in 2020—joining Alabama, Notre Dame and Coastal Carolina. The Cougars ranked as high as eighth in the AP poll prior to the loss to Coastal Carolina.
It’s the first 10-win season since 2011 for BYU against a 2020 schedule ranked 21st-most difficult in the country by the NCAA. The Cougars are coached by Kalani Sitake, concluding his fifth year. BYU is playing in a bowl game for the 15th time in 16 years.
BYU boasts one of the best defenses in the country—ranking third in scoring defense and 10th in total defense. The Cougars held three different opponents scoreless in three of four quarters. They also complete 72 percent of their passes, score 43 points per game and average 510 total yards and 323 passing yards. Only two teams in the country—North Carolina and Alabama—have recorded more first downs in 2020 than BYU.
BYU quarterback Zach Wilson and UCF counterpart Dillon Gabriel both have thrown 30 TD passes. Wilson ranks second nationally in TD passes and points responsible for, third in passing efficiency, fourth in completion percentage—and he’s the first BYU quarterback in 11 years to throw at least one TD pass in every game.  
The Cougars are led by junior signal-caller Wilson (3,274 passing yards, .731 completion percentage), junior wide receiver Dax Milne (1,099 receiving yards), redshirt sophomore running back Tyler Allgeier (957 rushing yards), redshirt senior rover Isaiah Kaufusi (184 tackles) and redshirt sophomore middle linebacker Keenan Pili (184 tackles).   
BYU has won at least eight games 11 times over the past 15 years (including 2020) and boasts 10 or more wins six times during that span. Competing as an independent since 2011, the Cougars have eight bowl victories over those 15 seasons. This is a preview of two upcoming regular-season games between UCF and BYU: 2023 at the Bounce House, 2024 in Provo. These two teams played twice previously–in 2011 (BYU won 24-17 in Provo) and 2014 (UCF won 31-24 in OT in Orlando).
A limited public ticket sale is expected at a later date, with pandemic protocols in place. The game has been approved for 20% stadium capacity. UCF donors and season-ticket holders already have been contacted by the UCF Ticket Office.
Fans unable to attend this year’s bowl game who would still like to support the UCF football program may consider making a donation to the Keep Charging On Fund. All donations are tax-deductible and accrue priority points for future post-season ticket allocation.

Friday, December 4, 2020

Superstar QB McKenzie Milton says Goodbye to UCF

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:04

In an incredibly heartwarming announcement to the Knight Nation, McKenzie Milton made the announcement that he has made the incredibly difficult decision to enter the transfer portal for his final year of NCAA eligibility. Milton suffered a devastating injury during the UCF vs. USF matchup in 2018 and has faced an incredibly hard-fought battle to get back to the field.

But he also faced the difficult reality that the UCF Knights football team is now under the helm of his dear friend QB Dillon Gabriel. Gabriel has been prolific at UCF and has broken many records for the Knights. Milton would have to compete against Gabriel to play for the team in 2021, a tenuous and challenging predicament.

Acknowledging he wanted nothing best for the Black & Gold and its QB leader Gabriel, Milton is chasing his dream of playing in the NFL and is transferring to another team for his final year. Watch this amazing video of Milton’s goodbye to UCF below. Have tissues handy:

Monday, November 30, 2020

UCF Knights Await Bowl Fate After S. Florida Win

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:20
Photo Copyright, UCF Athletics

The UCF Knights (6-3; 5-3 AAC) defeated S. Florida (1-8; 0-7 AAC) on Black Friday in the annual War on I4. The game was nationally-televised on ESPN. As reported by the AAC:

Quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw for 336 yards and four touchdowns and added a rushing TD to lead UCF to a 58-46 win against USF Saturday in the annual War on I-4 matchup at Raymond James Stadium.

abriel and the Knights came out on top in a shootout that saw the teams combine for 1,223 yards, 66 first downs and 109 points. USF quarterback Jordan McCloud threw for a career-high 404 yards and four touchdowns along with a rushing touchdown on his own.

Both teams finished with two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver, but the Knights had the final answer after the Bulls had closed to within seven points in the fourth quarter.

UCF built a 31-14 lead at halftime on Daniel Obarski’s 23-yard field goal with nine seconds left in the second quarter and the Knights led 45-28 after Gabrie’s 12-yard touchdown run with 1:13 in the third period.

But the Bulls answered with Jared Sackett’s 30-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter and USF took advantage of Gabriel’s only miscue when Brian Battie scored on a 1-yard run with 10:10 left after a Gabriel interception, making it 45-38.

The Knights scored on back-to-back drives to close the game out as Greg McCrae scored from 11 yards out with 6:34 left to cap a short drive after USF had fumbled. Bentavious Thompson added an insurance score on a 2-yard run to make it 58-38, and McCloud’s fourth touchdown pass with 14 seconds left was too little, too late.

Gabriel, who entered the game as the national leader in passing yards, added to his total with his sixth 300-yard game of the season as he completed 22 of 36 passes. Tight end Jacob Harris had five catches for 110 yards and three touchdowns, while McCrae (130 yards) and Thompson (110 yards) both hit triple digits.

USF enjoyed its best offensive showing of the year as McCloud led the way with his first career 400-yard game. Tight end Bryce Miler had 11 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns, while Kelly Joiner and Battie both surpassed 100 rushing yards. Joiner had 116 yards on 14 carries, while Battie had 15 carries for 102 yards and a touchdown.

The Knights now await their fate in the college football bowl post-season. Many predictions are placing UCF against Liberty in the Boca Raton Bowl on 12/22. Check out highlights of UCF’s victory over S. Florida, courtesy of the AAC, below:

Monday, November 16, 2020

UCF Knights Roll Past Temple 38-13, Host #6 Cincy Saturday

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:10

The UCF Knights (5-2; 4-2 AAC) rolled past the Owls of Temple (1-5; 1-5 AAC) Saturday night at Bounce House Stadium on the UCF campus. The game was nationally televised on ESPNU. Per the AAC:

Dillon Gabriel threw a pair of touchdown passes to Marlon Williams and UCF rolled to a 38-13 victory over Temple on Saturday night.Gabriel was 12 of 22 for 268 yards passing without an interception. Williams had four catches for 102 yards. The duo connected on touchdowns of 23 and 21 yards in the third quarter.

Jaylon Robinson finished with four receptions for 113 yards for UCF (5-2, 4-2 American Conference). Greg McCrae had touchdown runs of 7 and 1 yard, and Otis Anderson had a 14-yard scoring run in the first quarter. Tayvon Ruley ran 23 times for 90 yards for Temple (1-5, 1-5). Onasis Neely had a 5-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter.

The Knights have won four straight against the Owls and will take on the undefeated and #6-ranked Cincinnati Bearcats on Saturday. The game will be nationally televised on ESPN. Kickoff is set for 3:30pm. Check out video highlights of UCF’s 38-13 win over Temple, courtesy of UCF Athletics, below:

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

UCF Knights Enter Bye Week After Defeating Houston 44-21

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 02:59

The UCF Knights (4-2; 3-2 AAC) handed the Cougars of Houston (2-2; 2-1) a conference loss Saturday winning 44-21 on the road. The Knights now get a bye week before returning to the Bounce House on 11/14 to take on Temple. Kickoff for that game is set for 7:30pm; and it will be nationally-televised on ESPN2. Take a look a video highlights and a recap of Saturday’s win against Houston, courtesy of the AAC, below:

HOUSTON (AP) — Dillon Gabriel passed for 328 yards and two touchdowns, UCF rushed for another 300-plus and the balanced, high-octane offense swamped Houston 44-21 on Saturday. Gabriel, who leads the nation in yards passing per game, was 19 of 33 for 328 yards with a pair of TD passes to Ryan O’Keefe. Otis Anderson (170 yards rushing), Greg McCrae (107) and Ben Thompson (87) each ran for touchdowns as the Knights (4-2, 3-2 American Athletic Conference) piled up 681 yards of offense.

Gabriel has thrown 166 passes without an interception. Houston (2-2, 2-1) lost for the first time in conference with Clayton Tune throwing two interceptions that resulted in 14 UCF points. Tune was 21-of-41 passing for 263 yards and a touchdown. Tune capped a quick, 82-yard fourth-quarter drive with a touchdown toss and two-point conversion pass, closing to 37-21 with 4:17 remaining.

The Cougars onside kick attempt failed, and McCrae made a huge third-and-long conversion with a 20-yard gain that led to Anderson’s 28-yard touchdown, icing the game.

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Knights Get Back to Winning Ways, with 51-34 Pelting of Tulane

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:30

The UCF Knights (3-2; 2-2 AAC) soundly defeated the Green Wave of Tulane (2-4; 0-4 AAC) and racked up a TON of offensive yards while doing so. Per the AAC:

Maybe it simply marked a coincidence that on the same Homecoming afternoon at the Bounce House that the UCF football squad sported its annual space uniforms the Knights’ offensive numbers again looked like something from the outer limits.
Another 689 yards of total offense? That seems like a typical day at the office these weekends for Josh HeupelDillon Gabriel and Company.
Gabriel might be the only quarterback in the country who could throw for 422 yards—as he did against Tulane Saturday—and see his per-game average go down.
Another 51 points? Again, that seems to be what the Knights do weekly.
And for Knights fans worried about the UCF defense, that unit allowed 363 yards fewer than it did just one Saturday ago. Tulane’s 340 yards marked its season low.
All of that translated into a 51-34 UCF victory, as the Knights (3-2 overall, 2-2 AAC) ended their two-game skid.
Tulane, a team that has been more than a little snake-bit based on its recent series of razor-thin losses, roared out of the gate bent on changing that equation.
The Green Wave marched 69 and 79 yards to scores on its first two possessions.
At the end of those first 15 minutes the visitors led—and freshman quarterback Michael Pratt (a Floridian from Boca Raton) had thrown for more yards than Gabriel.
Then reality—also known as the second period—set in.
UCF in those second 15 minutes outgained Tulane by the astounding total of 305 yards to 15.
The Knights ran 37 offensive plays in that quarter (to 15 by the Green Wave)—on their way to 99 for the day, the second-highest total in any college football game in 2020.
UCF in that second stanza scored four touchdowns, recorded 16 first downs (Tulane had three)—and watched Gabriel complete 12 of his 15 throws for 199 yards. The Knights’ TD drives listed as 89, 71, 83 and 67 yards.
At intermission, UCF already had 480 total yards and Gabriel had thrown for 307.
All that so frustrated Tulane that three times in the second half it attempted onside kicks in hopes of stealing a possession. None of them worked.
To the Green Wave’s credit, it put together a pair of 75-yard TD drives in the third period and added the only fourth-period points by either team after a 54-yard punt return.
But none of that was even close to enough.
Tulane tried a new-look, rush three, drop eight defensive strategy—but Gabriel carved it up well enough early that the Green Wave abandoned it after intermission.
Even with Gabriel’s aerial accuracy, he was hardly the whole story. Marlon Williams had another of what has become a typical day for him with nine catches for 174 yards and three scores. Greg McCrae carried a career-high 25 times for 163 yards. And Gabriel’s five TD passes, after that same number last week at Memphis, marked the first time in 33 years a UCF quarterback has done that in back-to-back outings.
There have been 19 individual 400-yard passing efforts so far in 2020—and Gabriel has four of them.
Throw in a season-high 11 tackles for loss, five sacks (two each by Kenny Turnier and Randy Charlton) and a late interception by Derek Gainous—all of which made it even harder for Tulane to keep up.
The home team did not turn the ball over—and, for a change, the time of possession battle easily went to UCF (holding the ball for 34:14), thanks to marches that lasted 15, 14, 14 and 10 plays.
The Knights still had their share of big plays—a 55-yard reception by Jacob Harris, a 54-yarder to Williams, a 54-yard run by McCrae and another 41-yard TD catch by Harris.
UCF converted three of four fourth-down attempts, went 10 of 17 on third down—and punted only one time all day, and that while leading 51-28.
The game ended after UCF held the football for the final 8:29, running off the last 14 plays of the contest, 12 of them on the ground.
And the Knights had only four penalties—none in the opening half.
“The only thing that matters was being plus one,” Heupel told his team after it ended.
“Great job competing for all four quarters. It wasn’t perfect, doesn’t have to be.
“We’ve got to find a way to be on the right side of the plays that make the difference. We need to fight and play together.
“I’m extremely proud of the way we went through this week. We won the preparation battle, and you came together as a football team.
“And that’s what good football teams do.”
The Knights plan to wear their space uniforms again next Saturday when they play at Houston, another city with a connection to the space program.
They’ll see if they can add to these decidedly heavenly production numbers one more time. UCF v. Houston is set for a 2pm kickoff and will be broadcast nationwide on ESPN+. Check out highlights of the UCF vs. Tulane game courtesy of the AAC below:

Monday, September 28, 2020

#11 UCF Knights Move Up in Polls After Crushing East Carolina

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 20:40

The UCF Knights (2-0; 1-0 AAC) moved up to #11 in the AP and # 12 in the Coaches Poll after crushing East Carolina (0-1; 0-1 AAC) 51-28. As reported by the American Athletic Conference:

GREENVILLE, N.C. — Dillon Gabriel threw for 408 yards and four touchdowns to help No. 13 UCF beat East Carolina 51-28 on Saturday to open both teams’ American Athletic Conference schedule.

Jaylon Robinson and Marlon Williams each had huge games as Gabriel’s top targets for the Knights (2-0, 1-0). Robinson had nine catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns, while Williams had a career-best 13 catches for 136 yards.

Throw in Greg McCrae’s short first-quarter scoring run to lead a productive ground game, and UCF finished with 632 yards with its fast-paced offense pushing the tempo to keep the pressure on. The Knights had a penalty-filled start in the first quarter — including four false-start penalties while trying to get off their first offensive snap — before settling in and blowing the game open with a pair of touchdowns in the final 5 minutes before halftime.

Holton Ahlers threw for 215 yards and three TDs for the Pirates (0-1, 0-1), who were making a delayed start to the season after coronavirus-related scheduling changes. And it came in an essentially empty Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium due to COVID-19 protocols, with only a smattering of player family members in attendance.

ECU scored on its opening drive, but lost three first-half turnovers and didn’t make it back to the end zone until the Knights led 41-7 early in the third. By the time it was over, the school said the Pirates had come within 2 yards of matching the most allowed in any season opener in program history.

This was the second road game to start the season for the Knights, who opened with a 28-point win at Georgia Tech while amassing 660 yards. While the offense hummed along again, Josh Heupel’s squad will have to start cleaning up a penalty problem. UCF had 19 penalties for 139 yards, with 10 coming in the first quarter and seven of those false-start flags.

The Knights play their first home game next Saturday against Tulsa. Kickoff is set for 7:30pm and the game will be televised on ESPN2. The Pirates travel to Georgia State next Saturday. Check out video highlights of the Knights’ win over ECU, courtesy of the AAC, below:

Sunday, September 20, 2020

UCF Knights Destroy Georgia Tech to Start Season

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 22:59

The UCF Knights’ 2020 football season got off to an amazing start on Saturday in a 49-21 rout of Georgia Tech. As reported by the AAC:

ATLANTA — Dillon Gabriel threw for a career-best 417 yards and four touchdowns to lead No. 13/14 UCF (1-0; 0-0 AAC) to a 49-21 victory over Georgia Tech (1-1; 1-0 ACC) in the Knights’ season opener Saturday.

After giving up a long return on the opening kickoff, UCF rebounded behind its left-handed sophomore to beat a Georgia Tech team that was looking to build on a big road win in its first game.

Tre Nixon and Marlon Williams each hauled in a pair of TD passes as Gabriel eclipsed his previous career high of 365 yards in a game last season at East Carolina. He finished 27 of 41, also eclipsing his career high for completions and matching his mark for most scoring passes in a game.

After falling behind 28-7, Georgia Tech (1-1) climbed within a touchdown on a pair of scores by freshman Jahmyr Gibbs, who also had a long kickoff return to set up the Yellow Jackets’ first TD.

But Gabriel and the Knights pulled away in the fourth quarter before a socially distanced crowd of about 11,000 at 55,000-seat Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Showing off its running back depth, UCF got rushing TDs from Greg McCrae, Otis Anderson and Bentavious Thompson.

Coming off a 3-9 season in Geoff Collins coaching debut, Georgia Tech opened 2020 by rallying for a 16-13 win at Florida State.

The Yellow Jackets got off to a brilliant start against UCF. Gibbs returned the opening kickoff 75 yards, setting up freshman quarterback Jeff Sims’ 1-yard touchdown run just 55 seconds into the game.

UCF bounced right back, driving 75 yards in eight plays capped by Gabriel’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Nixon.

Georgia Tech squandered a couple of chances to reclaim control of the game, coming up with no points on two drives deep into UCF territory.

Sims fumbled the ball away at the Knights 8 and freshman Jude Kelley’s 27-yard field goal was blocked.

It was the fourth blocked kick in two games for Kelley, who had two field goals and an extra point swatted away in the victory at Florida State.

Kelley’s woes prompted the Yellow Jackets to make a change during the game. Another freshman, Gavin Stewart, came on to handle the extra points on Georgia Tech’s last two TDs.

The Knights showed they are again in the mix to be a top contender for a New Year’s Six bowl. Gabriel is a dynamic quarterback who fits perfectly in the up-tempo offense, and he’s got plenty of weapons at his disposal. Williams had 10 catches for 154 yards, and Jaylon Robinson added six catches for 105 yards.

Sims again showed flashes of promise in his second college game, but he simply made too many mistakes to beat a team of UCF’s caliber. He was 18 of 36 for 244 yards with a pair of interceptions. The Yellow Jackets also lost three fumbles.

UCF plays its second straight road game to begin the season, facing East Carolina next Saturday in its American Athletic Conference opener. The game will be available to stream on ESPN+ and kickoff is @ 12pm. Check out video highlights of UCF’s 49-21 win over Georgia Tech, courtesy of the AAC, below:

Monday, September 7, 2020

16 UCF Knights Land Spots in NFL

Filed under: UCF Sports — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 23:22

Sixteen UCF Knights will be playing in the National Football League (NFL) this season! Most surprising is comeback kid Bruce Miller, who will join the Jacksonville Jaguars after a somewhat tumultuous background since he first went pro with the 49ers. He’s been outside of the NFL for the last 4 seasons, Other Knights in the NFL this season include Michael Colubiale (Jags), Cornerback Rashard Causey (Dolphins), Running back Latavius Murray and receiver Tre’Quan Smith (Saints), Cornerback Shaquill Griffin (Seahawks), Tight end Jordan Akins (Texans), Receiver Gabriel Davis (Bills), Defensive tackle Trysten Hill (Cowboys), Cornerback A.J. Bouye (Broncos), Cornerback Mike Hughes (Vikings), Offensive lineman Jordan McCray (Falcons), Receiver Breshad Perriman (Jets), long snapper Charley Hughlett (Cleveland), kicker Matt Prater (Detroit) and kicker Matthew Wright (Pittsburgh). Way to GO KNIGHTS! Keep that train to the
NFL full steam ahead!

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