Knights Put on the Pads

Good news and bad news came from Knights camp today, as the team went in full pads for the first time this summer. UCF's players and coaches were pleased with the team's progress, but news did come today that one player will be out for the season after a knee injury.

Offensive and defensive parity; it's something that UCF hasn't seen in over a year, but the Knights looked equally impressive on both sides of the ball as the team went in full pads for the first time since the spring. The offensive and defensive lines won their fair share of battles and there was no clear-cut winner through the air either. There were plenty of positives to be taken away from the day, which pleased Coach George O'Leary.

"I thought there were some bright spots on both sides," said O'Leary. "There're still a lot of kids swimming a little bit offensively, but I see the schemes coming into play, or at least the knowledge. Now they just need to keep continuing on the reps, getting the right reps."

Quarterback Rob Calabrese wasn't as sharp throwing the ball as he was the first couple of days, leaving a difficult out pattern in the air too long, and it was picked off by Darrin Baldwin for a touchdown. Still, Calabrese made some nice throws on the afternoon and looked very nimble when he left the pocket.

Jonathan Davis (
The running backs looked pleased to get the pads on, as Brynn Harvey spearheaded an aggressive rushing attack. Freshman Jonathan Davis appears to be a potential bowling-ball type of player and Ronnie Weaver looked quick as well.

O'Leary noted that the receivers looked decent, although he thought they still dropped too many passes. Brian Watters and Rocky Ross still look to be the rallying points of the receivers. The group did take a bit of a hit, as it O'Leary announced that slot receiver Khymest Williams tore his ACL in a no-contact drill on Saturday and will likely be out for the season.

The offensive line continues to progress as well. O'Leary noted that Jah Reid has had a good camp so far and freshman Moose Robinson was happy with the line's performance on the day. The defensive added some blitz packages on the afternoon and while the line seemed a little flustered at times, they looked head-over-heels better than when they first saw an increased rush this spring.

"The defense put in dogs and everything and it was real tricky, but for the first day we came out and figured out everything pretty good," Robinson said. "I feel like Coach O'Leary was real content with that."

For some players, the first day of pads was their last first day of pads ever as a Knight. Defensive tackle Torrell Troup, who is likely going to be an NFL player, said it was a bitter-sweet day.

"I have mixed emotions," said Troup. "I've been here four years and I'm going to miss everybody, so I figure this time next year I won't be with the same group of guys, it's kind of a mixed feeling."

Freshman A.J. Bouye also had a pick-six and has made the most of his reps lately. Derrick Hallman continues to progress and the secondary overall was solid. The linebackers were responsible for some big hits too.

The play that epitomized the day and the team's overall progress came when receiver Austin Davis caught a pass over the middle of the field, was hit by a defensive back and then ricocheted back into Cory Hogue, who delivered a devastating hit, drawings quite the reaction from his teammates.

While it was an impressive hit that forced Davis to get up slowly and wobble off the field, he held onto the ball. Then Davis got up, even though he was dazed, with the ball still in his hands. One good play by the defense and an equally good one by the offense; there's no doubt about, UCF is looking balanced on both sides of the ball.

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