The Knights came out of their April 17 spring game having found their 2010 quarterback: sophomore Rob Calabrese.
The most experienced player in the competition, Calabrese nonetheless was being pushed hard by freshman Jeffrey Godfrey.
Wide receiver A.J. Guyton described Calabrese as "jumpy" last season, but it was a settled Calabrese who perhaps made his most impressive play of the scrimmage when he threw the ball away on a screen route instead of forcing it and getting intercepted.
"That's something he didn't see last year," said Coach George O'Leary. "That tells me he's getting it now."
An 8-5 team last season, the Knights are well-positioned to be better this season. They return 19 seniors and 17 players who started at least once a year ago.
O'Leary is pleased going forward because the spring helped erase some of the bad memories of a humiliating loss to Rutgers to end last season.
"I relate everything to the last game," O'Leary said, noting that establishing the line of scrimmage was the first priority in the spring and carrying over into the fall. "When you get hit in the mouth, you've got to fight back.
"The other thing was we wanted to get some depth at some of the positions. I thought we accomplished that."NOTES, QUOTES
--New Miami Dolphins wide receiver and former Knight Brandon Marshall was one of several ex-UCF players who attended the spring game.
--The defense looked good, as expected, in the spring game and senior Derrick Hallman said the defense has tall goals this season. "We want to be the best in the conference without a doubt," he said, "but we are taking it a step higher this year and (defensive coordinator Dave Huxtable) wants us to be the best in the nation."
QB Rob Galabrese -- He has the starting job going into fall practice. "I think the leadership has got to come from the guy with the experience," coach George O'Leary told the Orlando Sentinel. "And that's Rob."
RB Brendan Kelly -- He has an increased opportunity because of the knee injury to Brynn Harvey that keeps Harvey out for the first few games. Kelly started the spring game and gained 45 yards on nine carries with one touchdown.
RB Jonathan Davis - Another player with more opportunity because of Brynn Harvey's injury, Davis showed well in the spring game with 37 yards on 11 carries. O'Leary voiced confidence in Brendan Kelly and Davis, saying "both of them can help us win football games."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I've put a lot of hard work in and I feel like I'm ready." -- Rob Calabrese on wearing the title of starting quarterback heading into the fall.STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
2010 OUTLOOK: Normally a new quarterback is a sign that a team and its fans should be cautious about the upcoming season. But the Knights return 17 starters. They have depth. They have talent. An 8-5 team a year ago, they should be better than that this time around. If they're not, then coach George O'Leary will have some explaining to do.
SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: The potential negatives are having a new quarterback, and that your starting running back is injured. But O'Leary has confidence in Rob Calabrese, the new QB, and there are good targets for Calabrese to throw the ball to, and the coach likes the running backs who will step in for Brynn Harvey. "(Brendan) Kelly is a good tackle-to-tackle guy," O'Leary told the Orlando Sentinel. "Jonathan (Davis) is more of a shake and bake guy when he gets on the edge." Calabrese is also confident. "After two years, I understand what to do now," he said. "I've take this opportunity and run with it."
SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: Led by 2009 C-USA Defensive Player of the Year Bruce Miller, this was a sometimes dominating defense last year. They led the league in total defense, rushing defense and sacks. And they could be even better this season. "With us having so many people back and having that chemistry already," Miller said, "we haven't taken a step back from where we were last year."
SCOUTING THE SPECIAL TEAMS: Senior Ben Clingan should again handle punting duties. Nick Cattoi hit 14 of 20 field-goal attempts last season and likely is the kicker this season. A year ago, three different players returned a kick 72 or more yards. So there is much depth here. The Knights ranked fifth nationally last year in punt return yardage against and 10th in kickoff return yardage against.This is an area of strength.
--LB Chance Henderson, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, looked good in the spring game and made five tackles.
--RB Brynn Harvey (knee injury) could miss the first four games of the 2010 season.
--Michael Lynche, who played defensive tackle in 2001-2002 for UCF, is one of seven finalists on American Idol.
Previous Report: 04/09/2010