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Last year didn’t finish as planned for UCF, closing the season with three-straight losses to end up 6-7 overall. But there’s plenty to bank on for the 2017 season with countless starters back on the offensive side, eight in all. Scott Frost is still only in his second year with the team, so some improvement is expected, simply because of that.

McKenzie Milton was thrown in a bit earlier than expected last season and had some nice showings, but ultimately struggled to a 57.7% completion rate with 10 TDs and 7 INTs. Milton easily won the job in the spring and has talent around him that should help the offense improve from 28.8 points per game. He’s joined by another sophomore in the backfield as Jawon Hamilton expects to double last year’s 495 yards and four touchdowns. Then again, the Knights averaged 3.5 yards per carry as a team and return three of those linemen, so nothing is guaranteed. Even still, the passing game should be better given Milton’s added year of experience. The entire receiving core is almost entirely intact from last season with Tre’Quan Smith (853 yards, 5 TDs) and Cam Stewart the top options to go with a great TE duo of Jordan Franks and Jordan Akins.

Defense did just fine a year ago, but was also the main issue in most of UCF’s losses. And after having the conference’s best pass defense, the secondary loses six players to go with linebacker being a completely new group, making improvement extremely difficult. On the opposite end of that, the front four is experienced and has plenty of depth behind it. End Shaquem Griffin was the AAC Defensive Player of the Year and he’s joined by a couple other seniors in Jamiyus Pittman and Tony Guerad.

UCF’s schedule is a bit easier and that should at least get them to seven wins or more as they don’t have a trip to Michigan. All of their non-conference games can be considered winnable, although Georgia Tech and Maryland won’t be easy (lost to Terps at home in 2016). Having to travel to Cincinnati, Navy and Temple doesn’t help matters either, while USF will be waiting for the Knights in the season finale.

The offense may be improved, but if the defense takes a step back at all, it’s hard to see UCF getting more than those seven wins with another six-win campaign a possibility.


2017 UCF Knights Football Schedule

Sept. 2 vs. Florida International
Sept. 9 vs. Memphis
Sept. 16 vs. Georgia Tech
Sept. 23 at Maryland

Sept. 30 vs. Maine
Oct. 7 at Cincinnati
Oct. 14 vs. East Carolina

Oct. 21 at Navy
Nov. 4 at SMU
Nov. 11 vs. Connecticut
Nov. 18 at Temple
Nov. 24 vs. South Florida

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