First Scrimmage for Knights

After a dismal practice Friday in which the offense consistently looked overwhelmed, the Knights bounced back with an impressive day on both sides of the ball. There were hundreds of spectators on hand this Saturday to get a look at UCF during the team's first full scrimmage of the spring.

Bad omens were everywhere as the Knights took the field Saturday morning. It was overcast with strong wind and a by-stander fainted within the first 30 minutes of practice, causing paramedics to come onto the side of the field. As the Knights prepared to begin their first scrimmage, the offense was trying to get the bad taste of Friday's practice out of its mouth and things weren't looking too bright; and then the skies parted and the sun shined down.

Fans were treated to what was arguably the most exciting practice has ever attended, as the offense and defense both displayed a lot of positives. Granted, we've only been around for a year, but that's the point…the team looks better than we've seen in our brief history.

The two top stories of the day had to be Rob Calabrese and Brynn Harvey. The sophomores both had stellar days and really gave the first and second team defenses some headaches.

"I was pleased offensively that they made some plays, it was improvement from during the week as far as the line of scrimmage," said George O'Leary. I thought Brynn Harvey looked very good today as far as doing some things. I didn't think Calabrese looked as sharp as I would have liked. He had some open throws and you have to make those throws, but it's not always the quarterback, sometimes it's the receiver running a shorter route or that type of thing."

Harvey simply dazzled on the day, from the first series he was in to the last. His vision is getting better with every practice and he has cut-back ability and size that is reminiscent to a young Fred Taylor. Some other backs had good performances too. Ronnie Weaver showed wiggle and power on several plays that few knew existed, and he seems to be running with a ship on his shoulder. In goal-line situations, Latavius Murray emerged as a guy who can get it down, as he powered it past the pylon once and then used his burst to out run a linebacker for another score.

Calabrese may not have been flawless, but he's the most talented quarterback UCF has had around here in some time. He delivers a wonderful ball on the run and he seems to be getting more and more confidence in the pocket. Consistency is the key word for him and he seems to be taking steps in the right direction. More importantly, other quarterbacks are not growing like Calabrese and he's distinguishing himself from the group, although L.D. Crow continues to impress while he stands in the shadows.

The receivers were good today, although there were still a few more drops than O'Leary would like. Guys like A.J. Guyton, Jamar Newsome and Brian Watters all made plays however, so the depth is evident among the group.

The offensive line did good in individual drills and was adequate against an experienced and talented defensive line, as the starters did open up some cracks for Harvey and kept the pressure off of Calabrese. The group still has a ways to go, but they are taking baby steps, albeit 300 lb. baby steps.

The hogs may have looked so good because of the fact that Torrell Troup did not participate in the scrimmage today. He took a spill yesterday but was dressed up today and walking fine, so it seems that his absence was precautionary. His value to the team was very clear though, as the Knights' defense was not the same without him. Travis Timmons was solid on the day and the ends were disruptive as usually, but that domination that we usually see when Troup is in was absent.

Jordan Richards continues to just make plays from outside linebacker. The group as a whole had a good day and played cohesive football. There were some gap-control problems that led to a few breakout runs by Harvey, but the group should be one of the league's best this year. Just a quick note, Cory Houge was dressed today but I believe he did not participate as well.

Again, it is difficult to make heads or tails of the receivers. Emery Allen is still the lone stud, but he is participating with the second team for missing study hall. Darwin Baldwin seemingly had his best day of practice and made some real nice plays when the ball was in the air. Derrick Hallman is still transitioning to his move to safety and has impressed the staff thus far. The team is depending on Josh Robinson to contribute and while he continues to make plays, he is also giving some up.

All in all, it was a very good day for the Knights, with no injures. The team is improving in every aspect of the game, leaving spectators to be cautiously optimistic. All you can ask for is improvement and today, the Knights did just that.

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