Football

Anonymous Big 12 Coach on UCF Football: Knights Have ‘Upped Their Game in Every Way’

Preview magazine season is here as we roll into the back half of June, and college football fans begin to set their eyes on the things to come in the year ahead.

Along with Phil Steele and Lindy’s, Athlon Sports has made a name for itself as one of the giants in the preview magazine business, cementing itself as a mainstay on grocery store shelves across the nation.

This magazine, in particular, has long had a segment during this part of the season when they ask coaches anonymously about the other schools in their league.

 

It’s here where we’ll take a look at what one Big 12 coach has to say about the UCF Knights.

Year 1 did not go as planned for Gus Malzahn’s program, as UCF’s inaugural season in the Big 12 ended with a 6-7 (3-6 Big 12) record and a ninth-place finish in the league. However, a closer look might give a better representation of what we should expect from the Knights going forward.

Of their six losses in conference play, three were decided by two points or less. In fact, UCF was just 1-3 in one-possession Big 12 games. Had those fallen the other way, we’d be talking about a 9-4 finish, and an entirely different outlook on 2024. For one Big 12 coach, UCF is on an upward trajectory, and perhaps not just in an immediate sense.

“They’re getting better and better in recruiting, Gus has given them what the administration built for a long time — that real shot at being another power team in the state of Florida,” the coach to Athlon Sports. They’ve upped their game in every way.”

 

One of the things that should help UCF be successful in 2024, though, is the addition of Arkansas transfer QB KJ Jefferson, whom the same Big 12 coach says is set up for all kinds of success.

“KJ Jefferson was the no-brainer QB transfer of the offseason. He’s going to thrive in [Gus Malzahn’s] system, and there won’t be any adjustment needed from either side.”

In addition to Jefferson, UCF added playmakers at nearly every position of need, and in some cases, positions that were already healthy. Miami transfer EDGE Nyjalik Kelly should be an immediate contributor, as will USC CB Tre’quon Fegins. Daylan Dotson, Jesiah Pierre, and Byron Threats should all help on the defensive side of the ball as well.

Offensively, the big name is Peny Boone, who will flank RJ Harvey in the Knights’ backfield alongside their new quarterback. The tandem of Boone and Harvey might be one of the best in the country, and after the Knights led the Big 12 in rushing a season ago, there’s a good chance that they’ll do more of the same in 2024.

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