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UCF Knights add unique team-bonding twist

UCF seeks the program's 14th consecutive win in its Aug. 30 season opener at Connecticut
New UCF coach Josh Heupel (right) had Knights offensive players spend quality time with defensive positions coaches (and vice versa) during the offseason. [Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File]
New UCF coach Josh Heupel (right) had Knights offensive players spend quality time with defensive positions coaches (and vice versa) during the offseason. [Red Huber/Orlando Sentinel via AP, File]
Published Aug. 22, 2018

We'll learn in pretty short order just how creative new UCF coach Josh Heupel can be with the sleek offense he inherited in Orlando, but we're anticipating some misdirection.

The team's offseason bonding routine certainly had some.

To better acquaint the Knights players with a new staff, Heupel arranged "cross dinners" in which players at one position have dinner with the coach of another. Defensive backs, for instance, were treated to an outing at a Brazilian steakhouse by receivers coach Darrell Wyatt.

Offensive skill guys, meantime, went out with defensive coordinator Randy Shannon. "Pretty cool experience," veteran TE Michael Colubiale said.

"It was different," added veteran FS Kyle Gibson, an Armwood High alumnus.

"I really didn't know much about (Wyatt), because usually offensive coaches don't really speak to defensive players. It was kind of good, just getting the time to sit down and chat with him, just knowing some of the schools that he was at. He was kind of similar to all the other coaches, he started off in juco."

Just how effectively the reigning Colley Matrix national champs mesh with their new staff — and one another — in a game-time setting will be seen a week from Thursday. UCF opens at Connecticut (on ESPNU) in the game previously known as the "Civil Conflict."

RELATED: Does UCF's McKenzie Milton have a realistic Heisman shot?

"Every quarter or every phase of our offseason has gotten better and better," Heupel said Wednesday.

"There's a little bit of uneasiness, naturally, when you go into a new phase because they don't know exactly what to expect. I think a few days into that phase they're like, 'All right, this is how it's gonna be, this is how we're gonna operate,' and they've transitioned really well."

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