The Latest from Priority Sports
The Latest from Priority Sports
The popular perception is that it will be nearly impossible for UCF to be as explosive as it was a season ago when former coach Scott Frost’s “UCFast” offense led the nation in scoring.
This year’s offense under new coach Josh Heupel might just be UCFaster, UCFlashier and even more UCFormidable than it was under Frosty the Showman.
Heupel reportedly told the clock operator before the spring game on Saturday that he better get his trigger finger ready. According to many veteran UCF players, this year’s offense will move at an even more rapid-fire pace than last year.
“I think we’re a little faster than last year,” quarterback McKenzie Milton said.
“Way faster than last year,” UCF linebacker Nate Evans chimed in.
This is not to say the Knights will finish with another once-in-a-lifetime perfect record and proclaim themselves national champions again.
During the spring game Saturday, UCF unveiled its “2017 National Champions” signage at the stadium and presented players with national championship rings — yet another act of defiance toward the college football establishment.
I believe Heupel will show his own defiance this year for those UCF fans still lamenting that Frost departed after just two seasons and took his offensive acumen to Nebraska. I believe UCF fans need to start thinking about this another way: Maybe, just maybe, athletics director Danny White went out and hired somebody who will have an even better offense.
With all due respect to the miraculous job Frost did in taking over a UCF offense that was the worst in the country when he arrived and the highest-scoring in the nation two years later, Heupel did an even more remarkable job as offensive coordinator at Missouri. It took Frost two years to turn UCF’s offense into a juggernaut; it took Heupel one year with the Tigers.
When he arrived at Missouri in 2016, he took over a Tigers offense ranked 124th in the country the previous season. In the first year of Heupel’s offense, the Tigers were ranked 13th in the nation and last year they were ranked eighth. That’s right, a below-average SEC program that went 4-8 and 7-6 during Heupel’s two years as coordinator still managed to put one of the most explosive offenses in the country on the field.
Heupel was only at Missouri for two seasons, and by the time he left, his offense was really starting to click. In his final six games as offensive coordinator, the Tigers averaged 51 points per game. And they did it in a big, bad SEC that takes such great pride in smash-mouth defense. Heupel’s offense hung 45 on the Gators and 50 on Tennessee and led the SEC in total offense by averaging 502 yards per game.
If he was able to do that at Missouri, where he took over one of the worst offenses in college football at one of the worst programs in the SEC, then imagine what he is capable of at UCF. Now Heupel is inheriting one of the best offenses in the country with a Heisman-contending quarterback who has a full arsenal of weaponry at his disposal.
Milton, the nation’s No. 2-rated passer a year ago, will be a year older and presumably a year better. He has his top five running backs coming back and eight of his top nine wide receivers. Last year before the Peach Bowl, Adrian Killins Jr. made national headlines when he said the SEC was in for a “rude awakening because they haven’t seen speed like we have.” This year, believe it or not, the Knights might feature even more speed and explosiveness.
The only notable losses on offense from last year are wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith and tight end Jordan Akins, but just about every other playmaker is back — and then some. Killins is back, Otis Anderson is back, Gabe Davis is back, Dredrick Snelson is back. And watch out if Ole Miss transfer wide receiver Tre Nixon becomes eligible.
From all indications, Heupel’s no-huddle offense will move just as fast as Frost’s and, according to Milton, will be even more vertical and take more shots down the field.
Don’t kid yourself, Heupel knows the love affair UCF fans had with Frost and he is going to be jacked up in his first head-coaching job to show his own offensive wizardry. He will never admit it publicly, but you just know he’s going to want to put up more points this year than Frost did last year.
“We’re not in a race to see if we can score more points than last year’s team,” Heupel insisted.
Maybe he’s telling the truth, but you better brace yourself nonetheless.
UCFast is ready to blast off into another stratosphere and become even more UCFantastic than ever before.