ORLANDO — There are many ways to gauge the ongoing quarterback battle for the Knights unfolding during spring training. It will be Mikey Keenthe return starter, or should it be John Rhys Plumleethe addition of Ole Miss’ transfer portal?
There is no clear answer. In fact, the quarterback situation could end up being a combination of both players. It is probably far too early to determine the winner of the player behind the center. Even the Knights coaching staff probably doesn’t have a clear answer yet. What is known, however, would be how many different ways Plumlee is so important to the UCF team as a whole, assuming he can challenge for and/or win the starting quarterback job.
John Rhys Plumlee
Height: 6’0″, 200 pounds
Plumlee was Ole Miss’ starter in 2019. He did really well despite being thrown into the roster, in SEC West no less, in his freshman year of college football. As he split reps with the point of being drafted Matt Coral, Plumlee just did her business being a runner first. Plumlee rushed for 1,024 yards and 12 touchdowns in his rookie campaign, averaging 6.6 yards per sack.
In the air, Plumlee was less effective. He managed to pass for 910 yards, four touchdowns and three interceptions.
During his sophomore and junior seasons, Plumlee was playing catcher more than anything else. He’s never really been an elite player on the perimeter, and that’s probably one of the main reasons he hit the transfer portal and headed to UCF for another opportunity. to play quarterback. Now let’s move on to the points and questions about his arrival at UCF.
Plumlee matches Malzahn’s offensive identity
When Gus Malzahn has a really big offense, it’s almost always with a quarterback who’s dynamic as a runner. The current UCF head coach has a story to back it up. His 2010 team (Auburn national title – Cam Newton to QB), and his 2013 team (Auburn National Runner Up – Nick Marshall to QB).
Newton rushed for 1,473 yards and 20 touchdowns while Marshall rushed for 1,068 yards and 12 touchdowns. If it works, go for it. That doesn’t mean Plumlee can just be awarded the job. Newton and even Marshall to some extent did well to make big plays in the passing game.
Plumlee needs to prove he can do the same or Keene could very well end up being the starting quarterback. So that leads to the next question.
Ready to kick the football with precision?
Plumlee never proved to be a regular passer. Can he make a significant leap in his quarterback accuracy and decision-making? If he can’t, the whole premise of this article, as well as Plumlee’s quarterback career, could come to a quick end.
At close range it must be much more accurate as he was in his first season at Oxford, Miss. He knows it, and so do UCF coaches. Time will tell if this spring training and every opportunity to practice passing football by Game 2 of the 2022 season against South Carolina State will help him enough to be a regular passer.
Gain trust with your targets
One of the main reasons quarterbacks often succeed would be to have that special bond with at least one, if not more than one, target. An idea of what the other is going to do. Spring training, summer pitching sessions, and fall camp aren’t an ideal length of time (sometimes it literally takes years) to accomplish this goal, but that’s what Plumlee has to work with.
Can he do this, and can his receiving body do this too? Also, how fast?
What about splitting reps?
If nothing else, maybe Plumlee ends up being a backlash for the Knights when Keene drops out of lineup. Short-range plays, a change in the middle of the game and, of course, near the goal line, Plumlee could be slotted into the lineup.
It’s not ideal as any coach would prefer a clear No. 1 starter behind center. That’s no guarantee, though, and UCF may have to adjust down the line. Time will tell the story.
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The best scenario
Plumlee wins the job and he’s an accurate passer. Look, nobody knows if that’s going to happen. It’s just a fact that Malzahn’s attacks do best with a runner behind the center and that’s not Keene’s game. Thus, the importance to Plumlee of winning the job cannot be understated. In conjunction with his running skills, can Plumlee at least improve enough to be a 58% passer and limit turnovers? If so, UCF could definitely finish with 10 or more wins in 2022.
There’s a long, long way to go with the quarterback situation. This is the first of many conversations about Plumlee’s possible insertion into the starting quarterback role since Spring Ball began. It will be the first of many, however, before kicking off in September.
Somehow, UCF needs to bring the absolutely dynamic Plumlee to the field. He is an elite physical talent. Now, figuring out exactly how he fits into the quarterback situation, and possibly other roles, is still unfolding…
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