By: J. Daniel Pearson
Thursday’s game started nearly three hours late due to lightning storms that moved into the area just prior to the scheduled 7 p.m. kickoff. Once the lightning had moved away from the stadium, teams were given 45 minutes for warm-ups, which resulted in a 9:45 p.m. kickoff. The delay had a visible effect on the game attendance. Although no attendance was announced for the 44,206 seat Bounce House, the near three hour delay apparently chased quite a few fans away as the stands appeared about half full at kickoff. The anticipated heat factor was never an advantage for UCF. After the storms, the local temperature was 74 degrees – two degrees cooler than the temperature in Boise, Idaho at kickoff.
Dillon Gabriel’s threw a pick-six on his first possession of the game and was intercepted twice in the game. He threw only four interceptions in 484 attempts a year ago.
KNIGHTS MAKE IMPACT IN NFL DRAFT
If there is any doubt that UCF is becoming a big-time program, note that the Knights set a school record with five players chosen in this year’s seven-round NFL draft. Safety Richie Grant led the way when the Falcons chose him in the second round. Corner Aaron Robinson went in the third round to the Giants. The five players chosen were more than any other American Athletic Conference team and also more than 79% of all ACC teams, 79% of all Big 10 teams, 75% of all Pac-teams and 57% of all SEC teams.
FIRST FOR BOTH COACHES
Thursday’s game was the first at UCF for new head coach Gus Malzahn. He previously served at head coach at Auburn (2013-2020) and Arkansas State (2012), running up a record of 77-38. His 2013 Tiger team played for the national championship against Florida State. Likewise, the game marked the first contest as head coach at Boise State for Andy Avalos. A former Boise State player, Avalos had previous coaching experience at Oregon (defensive coordinator), Boise State (Defensive coordinator/Linebackers and defensive line). Sacramento State (linebackers). Nebraska-Kearney (defensive line) and Colorado (graduate assistant). It marked the first meeting ever between the two schools, UCF is scheduled to play at Boise in 2023.
GABRIEL CONTINUES CLIMB UP PASSING LIST
UCF junior quarterback Dillon Gabriel was among the national passing leader last year in both yards (3570) and passing touchdowns (32). With 318 passing yards against Boise, Gabriel now has 7,541 passing yards for his career and moved within 57 yards of Blake Bortles (7598 yards) for fifth place on the UCF career list. He also 65 touchdown passes in his career and needs just eight more to move past Mackenzie Milton for fourth place on the all-time list. With 519 completions, Gabriel is now sixth on the all-time list – moving past Steven Moffett (2003-06).
ANOTHER BOWL GAME FOR CENTRAL FLORIDA
Another post –season football game is coming to Orlando and Central Florida. Camping World Stadium is the home to the Citrus Bowl and the Cheez-It Bowl and Spectrum Stadium on the campus of UCF is the home of the Cure Bowl. In August, UCF and Spectrum Stadium announced it would be the new home of the Hula Bowl, a college all-star game slated to played January 15, 2022.
The Knights roster features 21 players that have already received their undergraduate degrees.
UCF’s comeback from 21 points down tied for the largest comeback in school history. The Knights trailed Illinois State 21-0 in 1984, before rallying for a 28-24 win and the Knights also rallied from a 28-7 deficit to Louisville in 2013 – coming back to win that game 38-35.
JURY IS OUT ON DEFENSE
Until Dyllon Lester’s interception late in the fourth quarter, UCF did not record any turnovers in the game. Still it was mixed bag for a first game under Malzahn. The Knights did not record a sack but did record eight quarterback hurries and nine tackles-for-loss in the game. Despite giving up 31 points, it should be noted that seven came on a pick-six and seven more game with a second interception gave Boise State a short field. “We made some mistakes on both sides of the ball,” Malzahn said. “But we can work on them and correct them” UCF gave up 283 yards, but only 74 after halftime.