The Knights have been riddled with injuries to key players through all assets of their game this season – with the offense taking most of the brunt.
But good news for Knights fans is that junior running back Dontravious Wilson will be back in black and gold Saturday at noon against Tulane, head coach George O’Leary said. Wilson was injured during the first half of UCF’s season opener against FIU on Sept. 3.
“He’s taken a little bit longer than he probably should to get back,” O'Leary said.
With the departure of William Stanback last week, there’s still room for redshirt freshman C.J. Jones and true freshman Taj McGowan to see some reps, though.
With Wilson sidelined, McGowan had been leading the Knights’ run game. He has rushed for 119 yards on 41 carries, while Jones is second in front of Wild Knight package foreman Nick Patti. Jones has rushed for 73 yards on 16 carries and Patti has accumulated 70 yards on 20 attempts.
The common denominator among UCF’s backs is that none have found the end zone – with the exception of Patti, who has two rushing scores but is listed as a wide receiver.
“The thing I don’t see right now is the running backs making anybody miss,” O’Leary said. “Where they get hit is where they’re going down. They’ve got to make people miss — that’s what good running backs do.
“They’re all different style guys, but when they go out, they’ve got to get hidden yardage. After the first hit, there’s got to be more yardage.”
O’Leary has the same feeling about the wide receivers as well.
“One of the biggest issues I have is really with the receivers. We completed balls, but really when you look at hidden yardage after the catch or after the first hit, there’s only about 11 yards after the first hit,” he said. You’ve got to be able to run through things and make people miss. That’s where your chunk plays come from.”
Redshirt junior Taylor Oldham may be able to help with that. He has been sidelined with an injury for the entire season but may be cleared to play in Saturday’s game.
“Oldham has an appointment today. He may get released, but he hasn’t taken a snap since last spring’s game,” O’Leary said.
Oldham had the second most yards last year among returning receivers with 35. Jordan Akins, who is out for the year, had the most with 135.
Throughout the season, the 0-4 Knights have sung the same song: their goal is to win the American Athletic Conference. Going into their first conference matchup of the season, that goal is still alive.
Jarrod Heil is the Sports Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow him on Twitter at @JarrodHeil or email him at JarrodH@CentralFloridaFuture.com.