John Denton's Knights Insider: George O'Leary Q&A Part 2

Dec. 24, 2009

By John Denton

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Still stewing about UCF's 45-24 loss to Rutgers in last Saturday's St. Petersburg Bowl, George O'Leary scanned the Knights' depth chart for something to brighten his dour mood.

What he saw told him that brighter days are ahead for UCF's football program.

``We could play a game tomorrow with the talent that we have coming back,'' O'Leary said confidently. ``The one area that really needs to pick up is the consistency on the offensive line. But we have players to fill in. We're losing three guys defensively, so we have to replace those players. But I think we're headed in the right direction with the talent we have coming back and coming in.''

Here's part two of the O'Leary question-and-answer segment with the focus on looking into the future of UCF football. In case you missed it, here is part one, recapping much of the season and the St. Pete Bowl loss:

QUESTION: You've spent the last few days meeting with your staff and watching the game film from the St. Pete Bowl. What have been the coaching staff's feelings about the game and the season as a whole?

COCAH O'LEARY: ``I met with the staff (on Monday), and everybody agreed with what my assessment was (about the St. Pete Bowl). I didn't really want to hear from them, and I just spoke up on every position. They agreed with me based on the grades they handed out to each position. We use that information and that's how we set the depth chart going forward into the spring.''

QUESTION: You snagged some speedy, marquee recruits last fall in cornerback Josh Robinson, Kemal Ishmael and Quincy McDuffie. How important is it to continue adding playmakers and speed to the roster in recruiting?

COACH O'LEARY: ``You have to always add to it. Recruiting is an everyday thing. You never miss a recruiting day. We've done a good job to date with the verbals. We've stayed on top of that pretty hard and the max that we can bring in is 23. Right now, we've filled the voids that we had to fill as far as positions. We already have 20 verbal commitments and six are coming in mid-year with two of them being DBs, a quarterback, and offensive linemen, a defensive end and defensive tackle. We're bringing in some help mid-year who will get another half year. We'll be able to see if they can help us next year.''

QUESTION: You have said that you want to have a definitive starting quarterback in place by the end of spring practice. Rob Calabrese has played with mixed results, while Nico Flores and L.D. Crow will undoubtedly get a look. What will you be looking for from your starting quarterback?

COACH O'LEARY: ``When I look at the roster we have Calabrese, Flores and Crow. I'm always going to try and get a quarterback back there who has good feet who can avoid a rush. Every time we put Calabrese in this year we did what we asked. Flores is a really talented kid who can do a lot for us. Crow is more of a drop-back kid, and then we have the (high school recruit).

``I might have to change my approach where we do more group work than team work because I really want to get after the offensive line and establish some play up there. They keep cutting spring ball back every year, but really that's the only time you can get after the individual fundamentals because you are so worried about injuries. The spring will be a wake-up call for both sides of our line. Then, I have to make sure I give all of our quarterbacks a lot of reps.''

QUESTION: The last five seasons have featured three good years ending in bowl games and two disappointing years. How much are you focused now on making sure there's no drop off following this eight-win season?

COACH O'LEARY: ``I tell them every day is a learning day and when you cross the white line it's game day, and for the most part that's what they have done. The year-to-year thing, I wish I had an answer to that. But I really think we're in good shape as far as talent returning. Now, it's just all about execution from the talent that we have coming back.''

UCF's players report back for agility drills and strength training on Jan. 10. Spring practice begins March 18 and the Black and Gold spring game will be played on April 10 at Bright House Networks Stadium. Recruits will be on campus Jan. 16, 23 and 30, and National Signing Day is Wednesday, Feb. 3.


John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFathletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@atheltics.ucf.edu.