UCF Runs Over FIU to Spoil Davis Debut
UCF head coach Scott Frost’s second season started with a bang as his Knights spoiled the debut of Florida International’s new coach, Butch Davis, with a resounding 61-17 win.
UCF was led by sophomore quarterback McKenzie Milton, who had an outstanding night. Outside of a couple of errant passes, in which Milton pushed his throws high, he was very accurate, going 16/21 for 360 yards with 4 touchdowns and an interception, 357 of those yards were in the first half. By midway in the third quarter, UCF would sub out most of their starters and allowed their second unit to get plenty of field time. True freshman Noah Vedral finished the rest of the game behind center, going an efficient 10/12 for 79 yards.
UCF largely struggled running the ball and had to rely on throwing the ball downfield. Milton was able to keep plays alive on the run and was able to take advantage of a porous Panthers secondary to make a number of big plays, including a 50-yard strike to Tre’Quan Smith, UCF’s top receiver.
UCF, coming off a 6-7 season in 2016 has high expectations in 2017. The Knights were selected by the media at the American Athletic Conference media days to finish second in the East division. The Knights might have had some extra motivation as they tried to have a whiteout, which includes fans wearing white and the team also wearing white. NCAA rules require the home team wear a “dark” non-white jersey unless the visiting team agrees to switch. FIU asked UCF to do this for them in 2016 and the Knights agreed, however, when UCF asked in 2017, the Panthers did not acquiesce the request.
Coach Frost said regarding the game, “It was a good start. I’ve seen our team improve in camp and in the offseason. It carries over to the field, which is great to see. You never know exactly what you are going to get in the first game.”
On the other side of the field was Butch Davis, who was coaching his first college football game since 2010. Davis first made his name known after nearly winning a national championship with Miami before coaching the Cleveland Browns in the NFL and later the University of North Carolina. The Panthers were led by Senior Alex McGough, who is coming off an injury riddled 2016 campaign. McGough had himself a decent game, but the Panthers offensive line was not able to give him enough time to generate much offense and the running game behind Alex Gardner’s 9 carries for 20 yards offered little relief. McGough finished 18/29 for 201 yards with a beautiful 75-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Owens and an interception. The game was a microcosm of the challenge Davis faces rebuilding FIU’s program, which has struggled to find any consistency since firing Mario Cristobal in 2012.
UCF hosts Memphis on Saturday the 9th at 8 pm on ESPNNews while FIU hosts Alcorn State on the 9th at 7:30 pm on beIN.