Gus Malzahn explains QB switch from John Rhys Plumlee to Mikey Keene after 17-14 loss

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UCF Football lost to Navy, 17-14 on Saturday. By the end of the first half, the Knights were down 14-6. When they came back from halftime, the head coach Gus Malzahn replaced starting quarterback John Rhys Plumlee with Mikey Keen. After the game, Malzahn was asked if the decision was based on Plumlee’s health or how the first half went. Malzahn said it was because Plumlee had shoulder pain.

“The way it was, we were going to have to throw it to get back in the game,” Malzahn said. “They were pressuring the edge, daring us to throw it. The latter, I think you will have seen, he tried to throw it in the end zone, but he just couldn’t. I just felt like it was time, Mikey, everyone knows what a good quarterback he is.

Plumlee passed 11 of 18 for 107 yards and one interception.

Keene came into the game and led the Knights through a touchdown drive that tied the game at 14, but UCF was unable to put together another scoring drive afterwards. Keene finished the day with 8 of 15 for 123 yards and a touchdown.

Marine, on the other hand, saw Xavier Arline go 0 of 1. The Midshipmen, however, ran for 248 yards.

Plumlee had a great showing in the Knights’ win over Tulane last weekend. He gained 308 total yards and three total touchdowns, while completing 17 of 30 passes.

Plumlee’s 176 rushing yards broke the single-game record for rushing yards for a UCF quarterback in a game, while also helping him take the single-season record for quarterback rushing yards for the Knights.

Plumlee was a three-star recruit in the Class of 2019. He transferred to UCF from Ole Miss in the offseason.

Plumlee completed just one pass for Ole Miss last season, for six yards, but caught 19 passes for 201 yards and rushed nine times for 72 yards as a wide receiver and athlete on offense of the Rebels.

Plumlee played as a freshman All-America quarterback in 2019 before switching to a gimmicky offensive role for the Rebels under Lane Kiffinlogging snaps as quarterback, running back and wide.

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Plumlee was a highly coveted rookie when he arrived from Hattiesburg, Miss. Oak Grove as the No. 10 dual-threat quarterback. And he immediately stepped into the fold, earning a spot on the True Freshman team. 247Sports All-America starting eight games at the flagger, rushing for 1,023 yards and 12 touchdowns and throwing for 910 yards and four scores. His more varied role arrived with Kiffin and the emergence of Matt Coral. Plumlee played in seven games as a sophomore, starting one at wide receiver and throwing for 65 yards, 94 rushing yards and 79 receiving yards.

Kevin Flaherty contributed to this report.

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