If the following questions provide positive answers this season, the UCF Knights are going to be a problem for opposing defenses.
1) How does the quarterback battle work itself out?
With the continuation of John Rhys Plumlee and Mikey Keene battling for the starting quarterback job, there’s no guarantee how the offense will go. Plumlee is the better runner of the two, but he’s not as familiar with the returning UCF receivers as Keene.
Even if Plumlee wins the job, will UCF insert Keene into the lineup as part of a rotation? The same question can be asked in reverse if Keene were to win the starting quarterback job.
Regardless of the quarterback battle winner, perhaps the most vital ingredient is at least one of Plumlee and Keene being comfortable with the offense to the point that it does not matter which receivers are on the field.
If one or both of the quarterbacks are comfortable with the receivers, the UCF passing attack will be able to take advantage of a litany of talented runners in the backfield for the Knights. Part of the dynamic will be the passing game working off the rushing attack’s ability to draw defenders closer to the line of scrimmage. That’s when big passing plays can happen more easily.
In the end, the quarterback battle has a plethora of questions to be answered, and the scenarios could change throughout the season based on opponent, injuries, and game situation. It’s fascinating to consider the vast array of possibilities.
2) With the newfound wide receiver talent from the Transfer Portal, will UCF's passing attack be one of the most dynamic in the country?
Ryan O’Keefe is going to ball out. Mark that down. He’s a proven playmaker at wide receiver that is already comfortable playing in a UCF uniform. The additions, however, make the passing game more than just intriguing.
Who plays and where, both are wide open.
There’s Kobe Hudson, the Auburn transfer. He led the Tigers with 44 receptions, 580 yards and four touchdowns last season. At roughly 200 pounds, he can play multiple wide receiver positions, much like O’Keefe. Therefore, he can help keep an opposing defense off balance from where he lines up.
Much like Hudson, Javon Baker is a player that can make plays from a variety of positions. He recently came to UCF from Alabama. Will both of these wide receiver additions be able to not only work side by side, but also produce from multiple positions, i.e. slot and boundary, for instance?
If yes, UCF’s passing game has a chance to be a nightmare for opposing defenses just with Baker, Hudson and O’Keefe on the gridiron at the same time. Still, there’s more.
Although wide receiver Jaylon Griffin is not a Transfer Portal addition, he’s still just breaking into the rotation. How Hudson and Baker adjust to playing slot or to playing the receiver position to the wide side of the field will open up more chances for Griffin to play boundary receiver, where he’s most likely to receive the bulk of his reps. It’s not just talent that matters, but blending that talent together to make a cohesive unit.
From what Inside The Knights has learned to this point in the summer, there is a good connection with the new receivers mixing in with the returning players. If that overall wide receiver group comes together, plus add in some of the young guns from the freshman class, there’s no reason not to project the wide receiver corps being one of the best in not only the American Athletic Conference, but placing them with any team in any league.
Experience, speed, size, and versatility are all present. Let’s see how it works out. For now, UCF fans should expect the wide receivers to do well, with the players added from the Transfer Portal being vital to helping O’Keefe and the returning receivers be even more impactful than last season.
Tomorrow will be a continuation of this topic, with Kemore Gamble, Johnny Richardson and the class of 2022 receivers being discussed.