UCF Practice Recap 8/5

UCF's second day of fall practice went well, as the team continued installing plays and working on repetition. The team is still sorting things out at the skill positions on offense, but Tuesday's practice offered some clarity at the quarterback position.

On Monday, UCF's quarterbacks were shaking off the off-season rust, but every player seemed to take a huge step forward on Tuesday, especially Michael Greco. The competition for UCF's starting quarterback has been well documented, and while Coach George O'Leary said he will likely wait until the weekend to make a decision, Greco helped his cause out significantly. He was much more accurate and poised in the pocket, and really made only one blatant mistake during practice when he threw an interception after trying to force a ball into coverage.

"I'll try to make the final decision on Sunday," said the Knights head coach. "I don't like making decisions before they get pads on. I think they have to get in pads. You look at the quarterback and their athleticism, but the main point is who moves the chains and who puts points on the board. They'll both get opportunities over the next three or four days of practice, and I'd like to make a decision and we'll move on. "

Weatherford had a solid practice, but he didn't show the mark improvement after one day that Greco did. Between the two, Greco took a majority of the snaps with the first-team offense.

Freshman Rob Calabrese continued to impress. After struggling in his first series during 11-on-11 drills, Calabrese made some terrific throws and received help from receiver Chad Alexander, who had a spectacular catch over the middle in traffic. During another drill, Calabrese threw a ball perfectly to walk-on Austin Hudson on a post pattern, in which he caught in the back of the end zone.

"I've been impressed with the Calabrese kid," said the Knights head coach. I'm going to play the quarterback that moves the football team. To me it's more important that the quarterback doesn't get you beat. As long as we come off the field on fourth down and we can punt the ball we can get better on offense. When you give the ball up and turn it over, that's how you lose football games."

The running back situation is still being resolved, but there is clearly an abundance of talent amongst the backs. Ronnie Weaver is the most experienced back on the team, and his all-around play must be noted. Brandon Davis, Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey all showed off significant skills, but it will be difficult to separate one from the other until the pads come on.

"I've been very impressed with the talent out there the first couple days of practice at running back," said head coach George O'Leary. "When we get some pads on we'll find out more about them. Once we make a decision we'll move on"

On the offensive line, the team is experimenting with a different starting rotation, with Mike Lavoie at center and John Hafferty at right guard.

Coach O'Leary isn't concerned with his offense because of his offensive line—

"I would be more concerned about the offense if it wasn't for the offensive line. They're going to get three yards per carry and three times three is nine and fourth down if we make one yard we're in good shape. I think we have the offensive line solidified.

The defense was stellar as usual, with players stepping up at all levels. Bruce Miller and David Williams were just several linemen to prove to be stout against the run and also collapse the pocket. Senior linebacker Cory Hogue also did a good job filling in the gaps against the run, something coaches have come to expect from him.

While the entire defense looks to be primed for a big season, it is still the secondary that is almost overwhelmingly good. Joe Burnett managed to make several deflections and picks, showing why NFL scouts are heavily interested in him. The entire starting secondary made plays throughout the practice, and the second unit also was impressive, especially Emery Allen, who again was a part of some impressive plays. The most impressive aspect of the secondary though was their enthusiasm and intensity. On Monday the unit seemed passionate, but they were even more vocal on Tuesday.

The Knights appear to be eager to start hitting with pads on. The team is expected to put shoulder pads on either Friday or Saturday, and it won't be a moment too soon. Not only will it give coaches a chance to truly evaluate some of the positions, namely running backs, but the players seem ready to get physical. The coaches had to tell players to lay off on the contact several times, which is a great sign that the team looks like they want to hit.

"Potentially, we have the chance to be better at all the positions with the exception of where Kevin (Smith) has graduated," said coach O'Leary.


Brendan Sonnone is a senior writer for InsideKnights.com, covering the UCF Knights for Scout.com. Feel free to contact him -HERE- with questions or comments.

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