O'Leary Names Starting QB

After two weeks of competition, UCF's battle for the starting quarterback came to an end. Junior Michael Greco and redshirt freshman Joe Weatherford had fought it out since the beginning of fall camp, but in the end Coach George O'Leary decided to go with the more experienced Greco.

"I've decided that Greco will start, backed up by Weatherford and Calabrese," said O'Leary after Sunday's practice.

Last season, Greco did an adequate job spelling Kyle Israel, throwing for 303 yards and rushing for 128 in eight games. Greco's best game came against Memphis, when he completed 11-of-12 passes for 151 yards, and ran for 77 yard and two touchdowns.

For most of last year, Greco was adapting to a new offensive system with new players around him after transferring from N.C State. Heading into the 2008 season, the left-handed quarterback will have more familiarity with the offense and some game experience.

"It was nice last season getting some experience, especially in front of 50,000 people. Playing against a live defense that isn't during practice also helped me be more competitive," said Greco during the spring.

Greco and Weatherford battled it out for the starting job through the summer, both offering something unique and different. Weatherford has a strong arm and good accuracy, but ultimately Greco's poise won him a number-one spot on the depth chart.

"I think he was consistent more on making decisions for a length of time," added O'Leary. "I think both are getting better."

With an estimated 40-yard dash time at 4.5 seconds or better, Greco has stellar speed and burst for a quarterback. His mobility, accuracy and ability to manage games are all strengths of his, and his ability to move the ball was also something that factored into O'Leary's decision to name Greco the starter.

"It's not touchdowns, it's moving the chains and field position."

Greco stressed after practice that he was relieved with O'Leary's decision and that he was ready to take the reigns as the team's starting quarterback.

"I feel I can relax a little bit have a little more fun at practice, but I still have to work hard," said Greco. "I have to keep getting better."

Not only did O'Leary's decision ease Greco's mind, but it should allow the entire offense to move forward cohesively, something senior tackle Patrick Brown touched on after practice.

"There are three things the offense needs to be successful unity, enthusiasm, and aggressiveness. Right now with a starting quarterback we have that unity part. We are going to bring the aggressive every time, and enthusiasm is just a given. [With] Mike being in there it just comes natural now."

With two weeks until the Knight's kickoff against S.C. State, continuity is something that will certainly come in handy as the team moves forward. The Knights are losing a senior starter at quarterback and perhaps the school's most decorated player in running back Kevin Smith, so Greco will have a large task ahead of him, but his coaches and teammates have confidence him, and he knows what he needs to do in order get better every day.

"I come every day wanting to work hard, learn as much as I can, get repetition, which is the best way to get better."


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