UCF head coach discusses McKenzie Milton's 'traumatic' leg injury

Josh Heupel says QB doing well but won't get into prognosis

ORLANDO, Fla. – UCF head coach Josh Heupel said Monday that McKenzie Milton, who suffered a "traumatic" knee injury Friday in the Knights' win over rival USF, is doing well, but he wouldn't say if his star quarterback would be able to return next year.

Heupel made the comments to Mike Bianchi, host of "Open Mike" on FM 96.9 The Game.

Bianchi asked Heupel about Milton's state of mind.

"He's a fighter. He's a competitor. Obviously, (he suffered) a traumatic knee injury. There's a lot of hurdles to cross -- to jump over -- here in the coming months, but he's doing well here in the first 48 hours. He's done really well," Heupel said.

Bianchi then asked if Heupel expected Milton, who's a junior, to return next season.


"We won't get into that at this point," Heupel said. "The family will release info as they want to as far as medical updates, with the type of injury it is. It's a personal and family issue as far as what they want to release."

Sources told News 6 sports anchor Jamie Seh that Milton suffered a dislocated right knee early in the second quarter of the game. An MRI will determine the extent of potential further damage to Milton's leg, sources said.

At a news conference later Monday, Heupel said he stayed at the hospital with Milton until the early morning.

"I've talked to him since the first surgery," Heupel said. "He'll fight back. He's been really positive.The first thing he asked about was the game. He wanted to know the final. His next thought was this (upcoming) ballgame and his teammates."

One of Milton's teammates told ESPN that he spoke with Milton via FaceTime over the weekend and Milton said he was able to walk for the first time since his surgery. It's unclear if Milton used a walker, crutches or any other medical device to help him.

UCF beat USF 38-10 to finish its regular season at 11-0. The Knights have the nation's longest winning streak at 23 games and will play Memphis on Saturday at Spectrum Stadium for the American Athletic Conference championship.

Darriel Mack Jr., a redshirt freshman, will start at quarterback for the Knights.

"We won't play much differently than we did with McKenzie," Heupel said. "This is the ultimate team sport. It takes everyone. The next guy has to step up."

Heupel later said preparation will be the key for his team and that he hopes there's a huge home crowd at Spectrum Stadium.

"We expect an advantage," Heupel said.

It will be the fourth meeting between UCF and Memphis over the last two seasons. UCF has won the previous three games, including last season's AAC title matchup 62-55 in double overtime.

"Every game unfolds differently," Heupel said. "Our players have to handle the flow of the game."
“We will play with tempo still. We won’t change anything with DJ (Mack),” Heupel said. 

The Knights remain in the playoff chase, reaching No. 9 in last week's College Football Playoff ranking. UCF will likely move up a couple of spots when the new poll is released Tuesday night.

Many experts believe, however, that UCF will again be left out of the final four. Some think it's possible that UCF could play Florida in a bowl game.

"I haven't even begun to think about (playing in a bowl game)," Heupel told Bianchi.

When asked what message he delivered to Milton, Heupel said, "I love him, and this is a hurdle that's been placed before him, and I know he's going to leap it and jump over it. We're going to take it one day at a time, and he'll be better for it, too. It's hard to see it now, but we'll look back and see that."

Heupel said Milton appreciates all the prayers from UCF Nation.


About the Author:

Daniel started with WKMG-TV in 2000 and became the digital content manager in 2009. When he's not working on ClickOrlando.com, Daniel likes to head to the beach or find a sporting event nearby.