Orlando, Fla. - After falling down 21 points in the first quarter against the Broncos Thursday night, the Knights were looking for answers. Running back Isaiah Bowser was the solution, running for 172 yards and a touchdown on 33 carries, and adding four grabs for 29 yards.
Knights quarterback Dillon Gabriel has just one word to describe Bowser and his performance tonight.
“He’s a stud,” Gabriel said. “I got nothing else, he’s the real deal.”
Bowser was the most reliable source of offense for the Knights all game long. The Broncos defense simply couldn’t stop him. Bowser averaged 5.2 yards a carry and only got better as the game progressed.
UCF Head Coach Gus Malzahn continued to call Bowser’s number and he continued to put the Knights offense in good situations. Outside of a few penalties, the Knights were rarely behind the sticks in this game, often due to Bowser’s rushing attempts. Although they were not always the biggest gains, Bowser’s consistent rushing yardage helped the Knights to stay in short-yardage situations and continue to matriculate the football down the field.
Coach Malzahn talked about whether it was their game plan to feed Bowser.
“It just worked out that way,” Malzahn said. “They started going with two safeties and we just felt like we needed to run the football.”
Bowser’s emergence may have been the most surprising aspect of tonight’s game. There was a reasonable amount of uncertainty of what would become of the Knights’ running game after the departure of its three-headed monster last year with Otis Anderson, Greg McCrae and Bentavious Thompson.
Considering not only his production, but his attitude towards team football, the Knights really found a great all-around player to help replace that production.
Beyond his attitude, Bowser impacted each of the four quarters of the game, there’s little doubt about UCF’s lead running back. That would be Bowser. He’s just what UCF needed, and received, from the transfer portal.
Bowser certainly picked the right time to transfer as he graduated from Northwestern and joined the Knights this past offseason. The 6'1", 225-pound running back led Northwestern in carries his freshman year, but battled injuries in his next two seasons.
The Knights will hope that this is the kind of performance that they can expect from Bowser. With the talents of Johnny Richardson (three rushing attampts for 19 yards) being an excellent complement to Bowser, that’s a one-two punch the Knights offensive coaching staff can work with.
Richardson is a blazer, albeit one that’s listed by the UCF Athletic Department at 5’7”, 170-pounds. After Bowser beats on a defensive front for two or three quarters, however, that’s when a player with Richardson’s skills can really be utilized. Hard to chase a rabbit after being hit with a sledge hammer. Perhaps there will be more conversation about the two playing off one another after next week’s Bethune-Cookman game.