Quarterback of the Future and Present

UCF currently stands with a 2-5 record as has an offense that has been ineffective for most of the season. Injuries, losses on the offensive line and perhaps most importantly of all, inexperience, have been the causes for the Knights' offensive woes.

Freshman Rob Calabrese epitomizes the state of UCF's offense. He shows sparks of brilliance at times with a rocket arm and solid mobility, but then will make a freshman mistake by holding on to the ball, throwing into coverage, or completely missing open receivers.

The Knights are desperately looking for some sort of consistency amongst the offense and it appears that Calabrese could be the man to bring the unit continuity. Junior Michael Greco has backed up Calabrese since he was benched in favor of the freshman since the team faced Boston College in September. It has become a weekly competition between the two to see who gains the starting position and while many have dubbed it a quarterback controversy, Coach George O'Leary is adamant in his stance that Calabrese will remain the team's starter as long as he keeps playing at a high level.

"I have been very pleased with him," said O'Leary of his freshman quarterback. "People keep trying to make a controversy out of him and (Michael) Greco. Until I see something better on the field, Calabrese will be the quarterback."

Calabrese's first pass as a collegiate quarterback was picked off and while he hasn't dazzled, Calabrese has improved each and every week as the team's starter. This past week against Tulsa, he threw two touchdowns to even his touchdown to interception ratio.

"Rob, for the duress he was under, he progressed in the game," added O'Leary. "I think Calabrese has a lot of potential to be the guy that can win a lot of ball games at UCF."

The frosh was sacked nine times, with a majority of the sacks seemingly coming from poor awareness, something that should develop over time. Calabrese has had to adjust from playing football against New York high school players to cream of the crop athletes with pro potential. It hasn't been an easy adjustment, but O'Leary is confident with the team's decision to put the ball in Calabrese's hands.

"I'm very comfortable with the coaches' decision as far the direction they want to head and we move on. This is a game where both are eventually going to play, but when you put the second player in you expect him to get some things done."

While Calabrese appears to be UCF's man, O'Leary insists that whoever plays the best in practice will be the team's starter on game days.

"We're still grading them, but right now Michael hasn't overtaken him in three weeks and I'm continuously asked ‘where's Greco at?' If Calabrese is out there that means he's won the practice dual. He's the number one until someone comes in and beats him out, which I think people have been given the opportunity to do in games," O'Leary said.

Without completely saying that Rob Calabrese is not only the quarterback of the future, but also the quarterback of the present, coach O'Leary indicated that point in his Tuesday press conference. UCF's coaches must now hope that the growing pains lessen in recent weeks so they can somehow salvage this season.


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