UCF football is currently firmly in the Gus Malzahn era and, given that hes needs to leave his imprint on the Knights, they ought to visit a successful 2022 season.
The initial year for Gus Malzahn at the helm of the UCF football program might have been somewhat underwhelming for the standards of Knights fans however the former Auburn head coach handled a huge amount of adversity and could still patch together a good season.
Now they enter into the 2022 season with a fresh quarterback and new hope that Malzahn is preparing to obtain the Knights back again to the very best of the AAC. But can they reach those heights?
To arrive at No. 47 on FanSideds Preseason Top 50 Rankings, the UCF Knights.
UCF football 2021 season in review
In 2020, the Knights finished the entire year with a 6-4 record and a loss in the Boca Raton Bowl to the BYU Cougars. Head coach Josh Heupel left this program following the season to end up being the new sideline boss for the Tennessee Volunteers. The Knights looked towards the SEC and made a decision to hire former Auburn head coach Gus Malzahn to displace him.
The Knights began their season in a hectic fashion, pulling off a 36-31 make an impression on Boise State in the opener. Through the initial six games, UCF sat with a 3-3 record. However in the next half, these were in a position to bounce back by firmly taking five of these final six games to complete the standard season having an 8-4 record.
UCF was named a participant in the Gasparilla Bowl, where they harmonized against a Florida Gators team that has been free-falling and fired Dan Mullen midway through the growing season. The Knights could actually grab the 29-17 win. Wide receiver Ryan OKeefe was named MVP after recording seven receptions for 85 yards and a touchdown.
Previewing UCF Knights offense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (6/7):RB Isaiah Bowser, RB Johnny Richardson, WR Ryan OKeefe, WR Amari Johnson, OL Matthew Lee, OL Lokahi Pauole, OL Samuel Jackson
- Newcomers:QB John Rhys Plumlee (Ole Miss), WR Kobe Hudson (Auburn), LT Tylan Grable (Jacksonville State), OL Ryan Swoboda (Virginia), TE Kemore Gamble (Florida)
- Impact player:John Rhys Plumlee
For the Knights offense, you will have a battle for the starting quarterback position. The team has Mikey Keene returning after overtaking for an injured Dillon Gabriel in the 2021 campaign. But, he’ll involve some competition by means of John Rhys Plumlee, who transferred over from Ole Miss. Yet, Plumlee has a lot of rust with just eight pass attempts in the last two seasons. However, his dual-threat ability could possibly be just what Malzahn wants in the offense.
The running back room is intact, with Isaiah Bowser and Johnny Richardson returning because of this season, who both logged over 700 yards rushing last season.
When it comes to passing attack, wide receivers Ryan OKeefe and Amari Johnson are returning. But joining the Knights wide receiver depth chart is Kobe Johnson, a transfer from Auburn. The team comes with a fresh tight result in Kemore Gamble, who transferred over from the Florida Gators program.
The offensive line has two new offensive linemen in former Jacksonville State tackle Tylan Grable and Virginia guard Ryan Swoboda.
Previewing UCF Knights defense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (8):CB Davonte Brown, NB Justin Hodges, DT Ricky Barber, DT Keenan Hester, DE Josh Celiscar, LB TreMon Morris-Brash, S Quadric Bullard, S Divaad Wilson
- Newcomers:LB Branden Jennings (Kansas State), LB Jason Johnson (Eastern Illinois), DE K.D. McDaniel (Kentucky), DL Lee Hunter (Auburn)
- Impact player:Davonte Brown
The defense remains relatively intact, with some departures. Tatum Bethune, their leading tackler from last season, will never be back, as he utilized in Florida State. Sacks leader Markaviest Bryant made the jump to the NFL, signing with the Dallas Cowboys being an undrafted free agent.
Their linebacker corps has seen probably the most change, with the team having six transfers on the roster, including Branden Jennings from Kansas State and Jason Johnson from Eastern Illinois.
UCFs leading pass defenders will return, including Davonte Brown and Justin Hodges. Just a year ago, the Knights pass defense allowed just 210.1 air yards per game, ranked 35th in the complete nation.
UCF football players awards watch out for 2022 season
Isaiah Bowser, Heisman
Normally, easy and simple choice to produce for the Heisman watch would be to devote the starting quarterback. There’s one issue it really is unknown that will win the starting job between Keene and Plumlee. Instead, we look at another position that’s more likely to win a Heisman, which is running back.
The very best running back on the roster is Isaiah Bowser. He transferred over last season from Northwestern, and shined in his eight games for the Knights. He did miss time because of injuries.
In eight games, Bowser ran for 703 yards and 9 touchdowns on 159 carries. Bowser returned with time for the Gasparilla Bowl, where he rushed for 155 yards and two touchdowns on 35 carries. That has been his first game since Nov. 6 that year.
If Bowser can remain healthy, he may have the opportunity to make some noise because the teams Heisman candidate.
Ryan OKeefe, Biletnikoff Award
OKeefe ought to be the favorite in the wide receivers room to earn Biletnikoff honors for best receiver in the country. Last season, he caught 84 passes for 812 yards and seven touchdowns. He ended the growing season on a higher note by winning the Gasparilla Bowl MVP award.
This may be probably the most likely honor for a UCF player this year.
Isaiah Bowser, Doak Walker Award
We might be cheating with this one, but Bowser is really a legitimate candidate for the Doak Walker award to find the best running back the nation. Actually, he was positioned on the Doak Walker awards pre-season watch list, alongside Johnny Richardson Jr.
Bowser is going to be the starter in most of the growing season, and may put him in contention because of this award. However, usually do not count out Richardson on winning the award aswell.
UCF football biggest game on 2022 Schedule
When considering the Knights schedule, one opponent sticks out on the list of rest. That’s, needless to say, the Cincinnati Bearcats. Just this past year, Cincinnati shocked the planet by going undefeated in the standard season, and an ideal 8-0 in the American Athletic Conference. Making use of their season, these were in a position to clinch the No. 4 seed in the faculty Football Playoff, earning them a go contrary to the Alabama Crimson Tide in the Cotton Bowl. They ultimately lost 27-6.
Both of these teams met this past year, and it had not been even close, because the Knights lost 56-21.
The Knights have the opportunity to get some good revenge against their conference rivals and earn their first make an impression on them since 2018.
UCF football best-case scenario
Possibly the best case scenario for the upcoming season is that the Knights remain healthy in most of the growing season. If so, they might stand to complete second invest the AAC. Despite having the departures on Cincinnati, they’re still hard to choose against in the conference.
So, best case scenario is they finish in second and ensure it is right into a bowl game.
UCF football worst-case scenario
The worst-case scenario is finishing below .500 rather than even having the ability to be eligible for a bowl game. Which could happen if the quarterback play is significantly less than ideal or if the injuries really accumulate on both sides of the ball.
If things are to fail, many can look towards Malzahn. That’s just what happened in his final years with the Auburn Tigers program prior to the school ultimately made a decision to move ahead from him. It really is unlikely that UCF would move ahead from him in only his second season, particularly when they finished with an absolute record this past year.
UCF football 2022 season prediction
The Knights turn to be considered a relatively stout team heading in to the 2022 season, however the uncertainty at quarterback could hurt the team from creating a huge leap from this past year. Due to the fact Cincinnati will undoubtedly be Cincinnati and Houston is increasing, the Knights will lose out on the AAC Championship Game. But, they have an excellent enough record to comfortably ensure it is to a bowl game.
UCF football 2022 bowl game prediction
Since UCF could have an absolute record but won’t ensure it is to the AAC Championship Game, what bowl game do they take part in? Since they don’t have any hard affiliations, it really is hard to predict which they will head to.
The Lockheed Martin MILITARY Bowl appears like a safe pick. College Football News predictsthe Knights will reach that game aswell, so well opt for that.
Up Next: No. 46: Coastal Carolina Chanticleers
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