UCF Practice Recap 8/11

Monday's practice went much smoother than Sunday's, in which the Knights' anemic offense aggravated coaches and fans alike. The defense continued to dominate on Monday, but the offense seemingly bounced back after showing signs of life both on the ground and in the air.

"I think we have so much installation that when things go south, somebody needs to pick them up, that's where the seniors need to come through. We don't have a lot of seniors on offense, but we've had two that have played for four years, Pat Brown and Rocky Ross, so I expect them to be the catalysts in that area, but I think they came out today and did a much better job in that area," Coach George O'Leary said a day after keeping the entire offense after practice to work out some serious kinks.

"I was more displeased about nobody taking over, that's why I kept them on the field to run some timing and execution stuff yesterday. Today they went out, and not everything is always pretty, but I thought the quarterbacks are a little better, I thought the offensive line got better."


QB Situation:

The quarterbacks looked much better today, but with so much instillation going on, the group still seems slightly behind schedule. Coach O'Leary indicated a week ago that he would likely name the starting quarterback Saturday or Sunday, but the sluggish practice at the end of the weekend prompted him to move the decision until Tuesday or possibly Wednesday at the earliest.

"It's not always the best guy, it's basically the guy who doesn't put us in problems in coming off the field, who makes good decisions," added O'Leary. "That's what I look at, is who can move the chains, not always touchdowns, but move the chains for field position and basically just control the football team and be the coach on the field."

Michael Greco had a much better practice overall. He still misfired some passes, but was very accurate at times. More importantly, he continues to demonstrate his terrific scrambling ability and seems to have an excellent presence in the huddle and under center.

Joe Weatherford continues to throw some good balls, but is still a bit inconsistent. He seems to have the better arm of the two, but his inexperience tends leads to more mistakes.

Rob Calabrese continues to impress with his top-notch arm strength and seems to be picking up the offense nicely, but O'Leary is a little hesitant to throw the freshman into the mix of things this early.

"I'm real happy with [Calabrese], I think he's going to be a good football player, but there are only so many sunrises and sun sets, we can only get him ready for so much."


RB Situation:

Today's bright spot was the running backs; everyone of them did something special, which has usually been the case throughout practice.

Ronnie Weaver is a look to play at this point due to his consistent production and capacity to do everything; his ability to block is among the best on the team and that is clearly something that is important to O'Leary.

"Everyone looks at their running ability, I look at their blocking ability, which I think is going critical if you're going to be able to throw the ball and do other things with them."

Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey were both phenomenal today and look ready to go. Originally, Harvey's vision seemed to be a bit questionable, but he has seemed to get more comfortable playing at a higher level, finding the hole his line creates with ease. During the last several practices, after he has found a crease, he has put his speed and cut back ability on display. Murray put on a show as well, running around or through defenders, as he punished would-be tackles on more than one occasion. His physical style and ability to block continues to impress fans and the coaches alike.

Brandon Davis had a solid day, again displaying the speed and acceleration that makes him so dangerous. He wasn't quite as productive as the other backs, but he too looks to offer something special for UCF.


Other Practice Notes:

The receivers looked much better today but continued to drop too many balls, especially in individual drills. During pass scale and 11-on-11 drills, the receivers stepped it up and made a handful of nice grabs The receivers' poor play the past several days opened the door for freshman Vance King to possibly see some playing time, as he seemed to have a better grasp of the offense today and made some nice plays. The entire unit is still working on drops, but the improvement from this weekend to today was evident. While consistency is still a bit of a concern with the group, receiver's coach, David Kelly, is confident that the corps can pick things up.

"Right now everyone says that ‘they aren't catching well'. Well again, if you have any experience around the game at all, that's typical of a young inexperienced group," said Kelly. "I as a coach understand that that point is going to come, and you have to teach them a step by step progression as far as learning the system and getting confident with it…the catching point will come, I know they can catch. They've struggled with it early on, but that's typical of young receivers."

The defense continues to dominate practice and make plays. The front seven has been physical, although the linebackers did seem to miss senior Cory Hogue, who had some swelling complications in his leg, but he should be returning soon. The defense and special teams are clearly the strength of the team and will be relied on heavily, especially early on.

"Fortunately we have an outstanding defense and an excellent kicking game, which will allow us to mature early in the season," added Kelly.


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