John Denton's Knights Insider: Knights Looking to Regain Winning Form at Buffalo

Sept. 17, 2010

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By John Denton

BUFFALO, N.Y. (UCFAthletics.com) - Through the years, the city of Buffalo has given us tangy wings and Flutie Flakes, and on Saturday this frosty city in upstate New York could be the birthplace of another tasty treat for UCF football fans.

Freshman phenom quarterback Jeff Godfrey, who made Knights fans' mouths water last Saturday against NC State with some dazzling playmaking, could get the first start of his collegiate career Saturday night for UCF (1-1) against Buffalo (1-1).

Godfrey, a Miami native who enrolled at UCF last January, split first-team repetitions with junior Rob Calabrese this week in practice. Calabrese started the opening win against South Dakota and played well, but he struggled against NC State and was replaced by Godfrey.

Godfrey led drives of 55 and 75 yards - both of which were capped by his scoring runs and put UCF in position for a potential tying score in last week's 28-21 loss to NC State. He finished as UCF's leading rusher with 53 yards and he threw for another 107 yards on seven of 10 completions.

UCF coach George O'Leary said he has no hesitation starting a true freshman at quarterback if Godfrey truly gives the Knights the best chance to win. He was not only impressed with Godfrey's inspiring play last Saturday, but he also liked how UCF's other players responded to the freshman's poise and playmaking.

``We'll start the best kid,'' O'Leary vowed. ``He's a talented individual. He makes a lot of things happen out there and as a coach that's what you're looking for.''

As one of UCF's senior leaders, Bruce Miller spent much of the past week looking for signs of hangover from the NC State loss. He admitted that Sunday and Monday following the home loss were difficult, but the Knights ultimately picked up their spirits and had a solid week of practice. And the belief that this can still be a special season is still very strong with the Knights.

Said Miller: ``We really wanted to try and go undefeated, but now we're hoping to try and go 13-1.''

While most of the focus Saturday night will be on which UCF quarterback trots on the field just after the 7 p.m. kickoff, UCF has other issues that it is focusing on perfecting. The Knights struggled to run the ball much of last week and want to get back to using the run to take some of the heat off their quarterbacks. And while the Knights haven't let up a point defensively in the second half yet, they are determined to get off to a better start at the beginning of the game.

``The locker room hasn't been a very pleasant place to be at halftime in the first two games,'' senior defensive end David Williams said. ``But I have to give our coaches credit because we're making the proper adjustments and getting better defensively as games go along.''

Turnovers are also a point of emphasis on both sides of the ball for the Knights. UCF gave the ball away five times last week - three times on interceptions, once on a deflected punt and a fifth time on a fumble in the red zone. And defensively, the Knights have the yet to force a turnover in two games. That's particularly upsetting to O'Leary considering the amount of time the Knights spend in practice on ripping the ball out and picking off passes.

``We got our hands on four balls last week and didn't get one of them,'' O'Leary said. ``We haven't gotten one (turnover) yet, and that's got to change.''

While most people didn't know what to expect last Saturday when Godfrey entered the game with the Knights trailing 28-7, UCF assistant head coach/wide receivers coach David Kelly had a good feeling about the situation. Kelly recruited Godfrey for four years out of Miami and has seen him baffle defenses for years. So when he did something similar against NC State, Kelly couldn't help but flash a wide smile.

``A lot of people were excited and ecstatic, but really it's what I expected from him,'' Kelly said. ``From the eighth grade on when I first started recruiting Jeff, I've been seeing those things from him. I know this much -- I'm glad that he's at the University of Central Florida. When I saw him in the eighth grade, I told him, `Wherever I am, you are coming with me.' So if I was somewhere else, he'd be with me. I've got to admit that. But I'm glad he's here with us.''

So is O'Leary, and he stressed just because the Knights have two quarterbacks in Godfrey and Calabrese that there are no chemistry issues or factions developing in the UCF locker room. O'Leary stressed that he would have no problem switching from Calabrese to Godfrey as the starter because his only mission is to win the game.

``I think we have two quarterbacks that can play,'' said O'Leary, who would prefer that starters be beaten out in game situations instead of in practice. ``That's why if I make the decision (to Godfrey), it's not a problem. And Rob would understand that because I would do the same thing if it was reversed. It's a business to me. I like them both, but I also like to win. And that's what you have to look at -- what's best for the team. There's nothing individual or personal about it. And it's based on, I think both have had opportunities on the field.''

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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.