UCF Knights fans need to temper their expectations for 2024

by | Jun 24, 2024 | 0 comments

Home E Features E UCF Knights fans need to temper their expectations for 2024

Okay, I realize that this may not be a popular column.  It’s not going to be all puppy dogs and rainbows, but stick with me until the end and keep an open mind.  

Our good friend, Knights mega fan, and fellow SONS columnist, Dali Charles Drama, recently posted the following on Twitter, which got some folks talking about UCF’s upcoming 2024 football season.  

Dali always has valid points and well thought out commentary, so I thought I may try to jump in for some playful banter and take on the “devil’s advocate” role against his stance.  Do my best to explain why 2024 would be one for the record books, if you will.  It is after all, a whole new season, with fresh faces and new opportunities.

But as I tried, I struggled to find the right words to combat his notion.  “Maybe UCF fans do need to temper expectations, after all,” I started thinking.  As a former auditor, I learned a long time ago, that it’s always best to “trust, but verify.”  I can’t think of a better perspective for UCF fans to embrace as we get ready to kick off the 2024 football season, the second for the Knights as a member of the Big XII.  Or is it the ALLSTATE XII now??  That’s a topic for another day.  Let’s stay focused.  One rabbit hole at a time!

Dali is right.  I agree that UCF fans need to temper their expectations, in ANY given season, and 2024 should be no exception.  This season especially, fans could benefit from embracing that trust but verify mantra.  After the banger of another record-breaking recruiting class, that’s ahead of its time, and a reasonably exciting portal offseason, UCF fans will inevitably expect us to have a “special” season in 2024.  Therein lies the problem.  For many, a “special” season means a conference championship appearance, at the very least.  That’s a big ask from a team that is still adjusting to playing a “Power 4” schedule, starting a new quarterback (albeit an experienced one), introducing a new defensive coordinator, and has questions to address on the offensive line and the defense.  

It doesn’t help expectations since Gus continues to talk as the “anti-Saban” (see Gus continually saying we’re expecting a great season vs. Saban known for talking about rat poison — if you know, you know).  I think there’s something to be said about perceiving oneself to be the underdog and not as the favorite.  UCF football has typically performed at its best when they are looked down upon and played with a chip on their shoulders.  With the parity in the Big XII, that “motivation” to prove the doubters wrong will be critical in winning games. Think back to the Baylor game in 2023.  2017/2018 UCF football wouldn’t have let that game end the way it did.  2015 UCF football would have.  I love Gus, and think he’s done an amazing job building the UCF football program at a critical time in our history.  That said, we never heard Coach Frost, or even Coach Heupel, say that we’re expecting a big season.  They were always quick to temper expectations and talk about how the team will need to play well.  That’s an important distinction from how Gus coaches.

Let’s go a little deeper and look at the Knights’ personnel.  KJ Jefferson coming in to take the QB1 role MAY or MAY NOT pan out.  I expect that he’s “better” than JRP with a football in his hand, but JRP had some gusto and leadership abilities about him. We haven’t seen much from the former Arkansas signal caller now wearing black and gold, in that regard.  We will have one heck of a talented running back room to play with, but again, with questions on the offensive line, their ability to run the ball will be questionable.  The defense will be working with a new defensive coordinator.  Some have said that Coach Roof is or in some cases, isn’t, the best guy to lead the defense.  We simply don’t know yet.

Now, don’t take this as all doom and gloom on my part.  It’s certainly not my intention to rain on anyone’s parade.  Contrary to everything I just said above, I’m still excited for the season.  BUT I’m also a perpetual realist (okay, maybe more of a pessimist).  I typically expect the worst so I’m never disappointed.  I have grown up always expecting UCF football to disappoint me. 2004 (0-11) was my first season as a fan and it set the tone for me.  In my time, the Knights have gone winless twice (2004 and 2015).

Dali and I aren’t the only ones warning Knights fans not to celebrate before the season even kicks off.  Most pundits and the media have us penciled in for a season with seven to eight wins, overall.  We’re a “middle of the pack” pick for the conference standings in 2024.  An 8-4 record is Gus’s specialty, so take that information into consideration before planning your conference championship weekend trip to Jerry’s World.

If you’re anything like me, it’s easier to keep your hopes low and be pleasantly surprised.  Don’t expect it all and come out disappointed if it doesn’t pan out.  Take if from a “the glass could always be better no matter how full it is,” kind of guy – enjoy the season for what it is, but don’t expect us to win the big trophy and you won’t be disappointed.  I’ll be cheering, no matter how the season goes, but my ability to cheer won’t be diminished if I approach the season with reasonable expectations!  That’s all I’m saying!

Let’s support our team, no matter how things pan out in 2024.  

Charge On!

About Brian W. Peterson
Brian W. Peterson | UCF Class of 2010 (B.S.B.A Accounting) Brian is a past UCF Student Body President (2009-2010) and former member of the UCF Board of Trustees. He’s also a practicing CPA in the State of Florida, Husband, Father, Professor, Dog-lover, and Wendy’s Connoisseur. Views are his own and not representative of the University. @BrianWPeterson on Twitter/X @BriWPeterson on Instagram

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