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August 6, 2008

QB could be named this weekend

Will UCF's quarterback be Michael Greco or Joe Weatherford? The decision may come as early as this weekend.

Knights head coach George O'Leary said Tuesday he hopes to name a starter no later than Sunday or Monday.

"I don't like making a decision when they don't have pads on," O'Leary said. "Once we get in pads I'm going to see who moves the football team... They'll all get opportunities over the next three or four days of practice and hopefully we can move on. I would like to get that done because I think that's the most critical thing we need answered.

"I think the major point is who moves the chains and who puts points on the board. I'm going to play the quarterback that moves the football team and to me it's more important that your quarterback doesn't get you beat. As long as we come off the field on fourth down and punt the ball, we can get better on offense. But when you're giving the ball up and turning it over, that's how you lose football games. I'm going to go with the quarterback who can move the chains, keep us in field position and when he has the opportunity to make a big play he has to be able to make it."

Greco, a junior, played nine games in a backup role last season while Weatherford redshirted. Both quarterbacks bring different things to the table.

"Mike is athletic," O'Leary said. "He's 6-4, 220 and runs a 4.5. He has all the tools. The biggest thing for him is making decisions and quick decisions. I think you'd love to see a guy like that be the guy because he can hurt you with his feet as well as his arm.

"I think Joe has great arm strength. He's not as athletic as Greco, but I think he makes good decisions on the field which is a big thing I look at. In the huddle, I think his fieldmanship needs to improve a little bit and that goes hand in hand with confidence."

While Greco and Weatherford are clearly the frontrunners, O'Leary also likes what he's seeing out of freshman Rob Calabrese.

"I've been impressed with Calabrese," O'Leary said. "He's getting some snaps too. The thing I've really been impressed with is that for a true freshman he barks orders. I've been impressed with that. That's hard to do with an experienced team."

Sharing the load: Kevin Smith was able to do it with ease, but O'Leary said don't expect to see any running back get 40 carries a game this season. With a stable of backs at his disposal, O'Leary is looking to go running back by committee.

"I'm probably going to try and play three or four guys there," O'Leary said. "I want to see who can basically handle Division I football and game day speed."

The competition currently consists of five players-- redshirt freshman Ronnie Weaver along with true freshmen Brandon Davis, Brynn Harvey, Brendan Kelly and Latavius Murray.

"I've been very impressed with their athleticism and their quickness," O'Leary said. "Not just me, but I continually talk to our coaching staff about it. They're fluid and they have good hand skills. They have vision and that's what a good running back has. Obviously they're lacking major league experience, but hopefully we can keep things fairly simple so they can go out there and let their athletic ability take over."

Despite the lack of experience, O'Leary said he doesn't consider running back to be a "question mark" position.

"I'd be a lot more concerned if we didn't have an offensive line," O'Leary said. "As long as you have an offensive line, I'm going to get three yards a carry. You can book it. Three times three is nine, and on fourth down make the one yard and we're in good shape. I think we're still going to be the same kind of team that moves the chains."

Quote of the Day

George O'Leary on offensive philosophy: "I always go with what the personnel dictates. I think last year we could throw the ball when we threw the ball. We had great play action because they were obviously defending the run. I think this year that remains to be seen, but I think we have enough quality offense. I always look at your finesse game, your power game and your zone, drop back game. I think we've got to utilize all three. I've never been a big gadget guy, but we've got to incorporate some of that a little bit more just to get some more big play potential with some of our speed kids."

Quick Hitters

*** UCF's second practice on Tuesday was again in shorts. The team will put on shoulder pads for the sessions on Wednesday and Thursday before moving into full pads on Friday. Wednesday's practice is scheduled for 3:20 p.m.

*** O'Leary said that when he first arrived at UCF in 2004 only three or four guys on the team could bench press over 400 pounds. The number now? 25. Defensive end David Williams led the team this offseason with a bench press of over 500 pounds, while offensive lineman Mike Lavoie was second overall with a bench of 490.

*** Tuesday was also Media Day at UCF. More than 30 reporters from state and local media showed up for the event, held for the first time ever at Bright House Networks Stadium. The team photo was also taken on Tuesday.

*** Former UCF fullback Perry Balasis (1987-90) was among the visitors at practice. Balasis is now a coach at nearby Timber Creek High School. UCF volleyball coach Todd Dagenais also watched part of the practice. Their camp gets underway later this week.

*** UCF Fan Day is scheduled for Sunday, Aug. 17 from 4:30-6:00 p.m. at Bright House Networks Stadium. Schedule posters will be available for autographs and fans are more than welcome to bring their own items too. Merchandise from the bookstore and concessions will also be available.


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More coverage from the second day of practice:

UCF Preseason Camp Photo Gallery (61 photos)
Audio interview: Moose is pumped and ready to go
Audio interview: Oliver happy to be at UCF
UCF Media Day Photo Gallery
Audio interview: Kelly enters the RB mix
Audio interview: Calabrese could be the future
Audio interview: Davis is ready to work

The most up-to-date news is on the Knights' only Dungeon message board.


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