John Denton's Knights Insider: Season Preview Part 1 of 9 - Quarterbacks

July 27, 2010

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Here is a breakdown of UCF's quarterback position. It is the first in a nine-part series breaking down each position for the Knights.

Training camp opens Aug. 5 and the Knights kick off the regular season on Sept. 4 at Bright House Networks Stadium against South Dakota.

POSITION: Quarterbacks

PROJECTED STARTER: Rob Calabrese (6-2, 220, Jr.)

KEY RESERVES: Jeffrey Godfrey (5-10, 176, Fr.); L.D. Crow (6-3, 234, RJr.); Blake Bortles (6-4, 230, Fr.).

PLAYER TO WATCH: Rob Calabrese. The junior from New York played well in the spring to win the starting job heading into fall camp. He will assuredly split reps with talented freshman Jeffrey Godfrey, but the job is Calabrese's to lose. He has been a part-time starter each of the past two seasons, so he knows what it takes to run the UCF offense as the first string quarterback. Calabrese must make good, quick decisions and keeping his emotions in check is also a major key.

STRENGTHS: UCF head coach George O'Leary makes no secrets about the fact that he likes mobile quarterbacks. And with Calabrese and Godfrey, UCF has two quarterbacks who can make plays with their feet as well as their arm. Calabrese has the size and speed to run some option and Godfrey can be a breakaway threat if he gets the ball out onto the perimeter. But O'Leary has stressed to his young quarterbacks the need for them to think about making plays down the field rather than just taking off and running at the first sight of pressure. Calabrese showed improvement in the spring with keeping his eyes down the field, while Godfrey proved to be a big-time playmaker in scramble situations.

WEAKNESSES: Neither Calabrese, Godfrey nor L.D. Crow have much experience, so the Knights will need them to mature quickly this season. Tough, early road games at Buffalo and Kansas State will test the nerves of the young signal-callers. Calabrese has worked hard at trying to be more even-keeled after a sophomore season in which some coaches said he was his own worst enemy because of his emotional swings. Godfrey picked up some valuable experience by graduating high school early and working throughout spring drills. O'Leary raved about Godfrey having a calm beyond his years and his ability to not repeat mistakes. Crow, a transfer from Stanford, hasn't played much, but could give the Knights a more traditional pocket passer.

COACH'S QUOTE: ``It's not the black and white with (Calabrese), it's the gray areas that he struggles with when everything isn't always perfect. The good ones have to take a bad play and make a good play out of it. Rob's better at that now. Being around Brett Hodges last year, I think seeing that poise and maturity helped him. He has to stop worrying about the last play and worry about the next play. That's been the stress on him, and Coach (Charlie) Taaffe has helped him get it done.'' -- UCF head coach George O'Leary


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