(Photo by Adrian J. Hernandez / New Day Review)
Oct. 3, 2017 at Wayne Densch Center
Availability: QB McKenzie Milton
- Following a 40-13 conference-opening win over the Memphis Tigers, the UCF Knights became ranked 25th in both the Associated Press Top 25 and the Coaches Poll.
- UCF’s No. 25 ranking is the first top-25 ranking since the 2013 season, wherein the Knights won their first and only BCS bowl in the 2014 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl over Baylor University.
- Under second-year head coach Scott Frost, the Knights also won their first game over a Power Five team in Week 4 over the Maryland Terrapins since beating Baylor in 2013.
QB MCKENZIE MILTON: “I mean, it’s pretty cool, but, I mean, it’s still very early in the season. We haven’t really done much yet. We kinda wanna look at it as we’re still 0-0. We just wanna be 1-0 at the end of each week. Every week presents a new challenge, and this week we have a pretty tough Cincinnati team on the road. So we gotta have that road-warrior mentality, and we gotta come ready to play.”
“I mean, it’s cool, but it still means we still have a lot of work to go ’cause there’s still 24 teams that are better than us. So, we gotta keep working. We can’t get complacent. Now’s not the time to dwell on it ’cause we still got eight more games left in the regular season. And if we wanna get to where we wanna get to, being the American Conference champs, maybe making a New Year’s Six game, we gotta keep working. We gotta take it one week at a time. We can’t look too far ahead. We can’t look forward two games. We gotta focus on one day at a time, and we got Cincinnati this week, so, can’t get too high, can’t get too low.”
- The Knights take to the road for their first conference road game of the season against the Cincinnati Bearcats.
- Cincinnati has the 121st-best rushing defense in the country through five games, allowing 237.8 rushing yards per game.
- Milton has already surpassed his 2016 total of 158 yards in 80 less carries, rushing for 186 yards so far this season (9.3 yards per carry).
- The second-year Knights starter is also enjoying more success through the air, throwing for 791 yards, eight touchdowns and two interceptions while completing 64.6 percent of his passes.
- Milton has also not been sacked once this season.
- UCF has the 16th-best rushing offense in the nation through three games, averaging 249.3 rushing yards per game.
QB MCKENZIE MILTON: “Up front, [Cincinnati’s] pretty physical. In the back, they’re pretty quick, too. They rally to the ball pretty well. And they’re a good team. I remember them from last year. They’re a very good team, and their record may not reflect that right now, but they’re a solid group.”
“Well, I mean, yeah, any time you go on the road, especially Cincinnati, [there’s a hostile environment]. I remember watching them a few years back. They were ranked in, like, the top 10, and they came down to Hawaii, and they’re a good ball club. Historically, they got a lot of athletes, and I don’t know what the weather’s gonna be like. Like [running-backs coach Ryan Held] said, it’s the Midwest, so you never know. And they’re a good ball club, so we gotta be on our game.”
“Yeah, I mean, those guys are awesome. Whenever somebody’s number’s called—Jake Brown got called up, and Sam Jackson got called up. They’re playing awesome right now. They’re moving bodies in the run game, and they’re giving me a lot of time in the pocket. So, I can’t ask enough. I haven’t got sacked yet this season, so hopefully we can keep doing that. But, yeah, I would say they definitely improved from Game 1 to Game 3.”
“It depends on the situation. Man coverage, we’d probably try to get some rub routes, and, if they don’t pop, then, if I can make a play with my feet, I’ll do that. But definitely try to pass first, and then, when I get through my progression, if there’s an open lane, then I’ll take it.”
“Yeah, I mean, we were in four-minute O. I knew we were trying to move the clock. Memphis is a dangerous team to get the ball back to them, so—and I knew I was near the sideline, and I kinda took a peak up at the clock, and I knew I should just kind of like sit down, so did that and then milked some more clock, and that was good for the team.”
- Week 6 is the first time the Knights will have a normal week of practice this season.
- The Knights hosted the FIU Panthers on a Thursday, and preparation for a win over Maryland was marred by an uncertain schedule because of Hurricane Irma’s impact.
QB MCKENZIE MILTON: “Nah, [this week doesn’t feel rushed] necessarily. I think it feels pretty much the same. Maryland, we practiced only two days prior to the week, and that was just, like, to get our legs back under us. It feels like a normal week. Play on Saturday. If it was Friday or Thursday game, then it might feel a little quick, but we’ll be ready for ’em.”
- In his second season at the helm, Frost has helped the Knights to a 3-0 start after starting last season 1-2.
- Frost’s second season has also been highlighted by his team’s first ranking since the 2013 season.
- UCF is one of four Florida schools in the top 25, joining the USF Bulls, the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida Gators.
- Frost won a national championship with the University of Nebraska as a player.
- The former Oregon Ducks offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach also coached Heisman Trophy winner Marcus Mariota.
QB MCKENZIE MILTON: “I mean, like you said, [Frost] brings a lot of energy, and that’s the rest of the coaching staff, too. I think we have the best coaching staff in the country. I may be biased, but those guys are awesome. They bring energy every day. It’s not like you get up in the morning, and you don’t look forward to going to practice. It’s not like a drag. It’s fun to come. It’s fun to see those guys, and, on Fridays, they’re out there in the cleats, catching balls, throwing balls, running routes against DBs and stuff, so it’s pretty cool.”
“Yeah, in the spring time, [Frost] was—’cause we were getting prepared for Georgia Tech and Navy ’cause we’re gonna face a triple-option team. He was playing the triple-option quarterback, so he put on a helmet, the cleats. He was doing pretty good. He was turning up our defense.”
“Yeah, I would think so. I think he probably has a little more trust in the players. He’s more comfortable with just everything. I mean, he got his feet wet. It was his first time being a head coach, so it was a new experience for him as well. But I think he’s done a great job so far.”
“I mean, he kinda told me that when he came back from Stanford to Nebraska, he wasn’t liked very much. So he had to kinda earn a lot of people’s respect, and I thought that was pretty cool that he faced some adversity in his time, and I kinda went through a similar thing. So it’s pretty cool to see that, and to see where he’s gone from to where he’s at now is pretty cool.”
“I mean, [I’ve learned] a lot [from Frost]. I mean, he’s not necessarily in the meetings with me ’cause I’m with [quarterbacks coach Mario Verduzco], but whenever he pops into the office, he’s always getting us knowledge, and he’s, in my opinion, the best play-caller and the best head coach in the country.”
For more on the Knights, as they prepare for their first conference road game of the season in Cincinnati, follow Victor Tan on Twitter at @NDR_VictorTan.