UCF coach Gus Malzahn on QB John Rhys Plumlee: ‘He has zero fear’

·3 min read

When UCF quarterback John Rhys Plumlee flipped into the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter Saturday at FAU, he caught the attention of his head coach Gus Malzahn.

“It scared me a little bit when he went flying up and he did a somersault,” Malzahn said Monday. “I hadn’t seen that many times.”

While the leap frightened Malzahn, Plumlee had no problem risking his body to score.

“That’s what he does,” Malzahn said. “He has zero fear. He’s got great courage.”

Plumlee threw for a career-high 339 yards and 1 touchdown to go with an interception and ran for a team-high 121 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Owls.

The Knights as a whole rushed for 314 yards to record 653 total yards of offense.

“The big thing was the balance,” Malzahn said. “He was able to run the football effectively. We had 300 yards rushing and he had 300 yards passing, so that’s about as good as it gets from that standpoint. He definitely was in a rhythm.”

Despite Plumlee’s interception, Malzahn said the Ole Miss transfer did a good job throwing the football. Five Knights caught passes from Plumlee, including redshirt senior tight end Alec Holler who finished with 115 yards.

“He’s continuing to get more comfortable with the offense,” Malzahn said about Plumlee. “When we can run the football effectively, that’s when things are rolling for us.”

One key to Plumlee’s success was stronger protection from UCF’s offensive line. After allowing 4 sacks the week prior against Louisville and 2 in the season-opener vs. South Carolina State, the Knights only gave up one sack at FAU.

“Our offensive line did a really good job up front running the football,” Malzahn said. “Our running backs made some good runs and then throwing the football, we were efficient. That was the most efficient we’ve been.

“We’ve got to continue to do that,” he added. “[Plumlee] did a good job with the opportunities he had.”

As for Plumlee taking hits while running the ball, Malzahn reminded his quarterback to save those types of plays for higher stakes.

“The only time I cringe a little bit is when he tries to run people over,” Malzahn said. “That’s what he does. When he ran a guy over, I told him we just want him to do that when it’s for the game or a huge third-down, fourth-down deal.”

Injury updates:

UCF tight end Jordan Davis, who also sees the field on special teams, went down on the opening kickoff of Saturday’s game in Boca Raton.

Davis, the younger brother of former UCF receiver Gabriel Davis, needed assistance walking off the field and didn’t return to the game.

Malzahn provided an update on Jordan Davis, who has recovered from a knee injury in the past.

“That’s a tough deal,” Malzahn said. “Jordan is a phenomenal young man. He was playing really good football and he’s going to be out for an extended period of time.

“We hate it for him,” he added. “He was really doing well.”

The UCF coach also shared an update on Auburn transfer wideout Kobe Hudson, who missed the last two weeks. Malzahn said there’s a chance Hudson could play against Georgia Tech.

“We’ll see how things go in practice, but he’ll have a chance to be out there,” he said.

Email Jason Beede at jbeede@orlandosentinel.com or follow him on Twitter at @therealBeede.