Bryan Brown will be earning his raise early this season as he gets to plan for another high-powered offense that will test the talent and preparedness of his defense. UCF enters the game Friday with a third-year starter at Quarterback and a highly regarded offensive coach in Gus Malzahn. Brown will have his hands full with this offense.
Experienced Quarterbacks are not as common as they used to be with the transfer portal as well as the premium the NFL puts on the position. More signal-callers are heading to the NFL early or looking for an opportunity to play so it’s a little rarer to see a third-year starter like Dillon Gabriel. The southpaw manages his offense very well and he is so good at getting the ball out quickly and getting people in the right spots in their tempo offense.
Gabriel is a special talent but what he does best is protect the football. He has some gunslinger to his game like any other tempo Quarterback but he doesn’t make a lot of mistakes and it helps his offense score points because they are not just a pass-happy offense. They can run the ball well and Gabriel can scramble when things break down. He doesn’t force the ball a lot but when he does, Lousiville will have to take advantage. Gabriel is about 60% passer in his career so he can obviously miss on some throws.
The UCF running game was a question mark coming into the season as the Golden Knights lost some Running Backs to injury and transfer. However, Isaiah Bowser has stepped up to be the feature back and he is averaging over 100 yards a game and has 4 touchdowns after transferring in from Northwestern. This is the key to the offense in my opinion as things started off very rough in their first game until they adjusted and started relying on Bowser to keep the defense honest. UCF found a gem in Bowser and they can now run a well-rounded offense.
UCF struggled early against Boise State when it came to getting Receivers open. They took some shots down the field but couldn’t separate. That changed once the run had to be respected and they found some room on the outside while scheming some underneath throws. Jaylon Robinson is the top target for UCF after transferring in from Oklahoma last season. He is a shifty player with the type of speed that you don’t typically chase down. He is also the exact type of Receiver that has killed UofL over the last handful of years.
The Knights also have Ryan O’Keefe and Brandon Johnson out wide. O’Keefe is similar to Robinson as he is on the smaller side but they both make a lot of contested catches in traffic. Johnson is a bigger target at 6-2/195 and he has 12 catches and 2 touchdowns this season.
UCF is another team that makes it hard to pressure. They get the ball out quickly and their line does a good job of protecting the Quarterback. UCF has also done well to clear running lanes for Bowser. Though he runs tough and sheds tacklers well, there are plenty of times where he isn’t being touched until the second level. This is a big Offensive Line that will test the deeper front seven that Lousiville has utilized so far this season.