John Denton's Knights Insider: News and Notes from Huntington, W.Va.

Oct. 13, 2010

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By John Denton

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (UCFAthletics.com) - UCF will have the next 10 days to prepare for its homecoming game against Rice, and that extra time will be vital in truly evaluating the progress and health of junior tailback Brynn Harvey.

The next few days will ultimately determine whether or not Harvey, who is just five months removed from knee surgery, will play again this season for the Knights or redshirt.

Harvey, a preseason All-Conference USA pick after running for 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns last season, is expected to undergo major contact work next week for the first time since spring practice when he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee.

Harvey has worked tirelessly to get back on the field, often undergoing treatment and rehabilitation sessions as many as three times a day. He recently passed a strength test with his knee, proving to doctors and trainers that he was well ahead of schedule. He went though some limited reps before the Marshall game, getting hit by pads held the coaches.

UCF head coach George O'Leary said he wants to see Harvey go through a series of live hits before making a determination on whether or not Harvey, who still has a redshirt season available, will play this season or not.

``We've been hitting him. Next week, I'm going to put him in team plays and we'll see how he holds up. We've been just banging him with bags. It's a little different when a human body hits you,'' O'Leary said. ``We'll see how he holds up, but I'm not pushing that one. I've seen too many that weren't ready and came back and ended up losing a year. If he can help us and he's ready to play, I sure want to play him, and he wants to play. Next week will be a tell-tale for him. He's ahead of schedule. We're going to bang him around and see if he holds up and what's going on with him. It's going to be a judgment decision.''


COMPLETE CORNERBACK: UCF standout cornerback Josh Robinson became a freshman All-American last season while leading all freshmen in interceptions with six. But while Robinson had a propensity of making big plays, he sometimes struggled in coverage and gave up underneath completions.

Robinson's mission coming into this season was to make strides in becoming more of a complete cornerback and improve his coverage skills. Robinson wanted to become a more instinctive player who reacted rather than thought as much.

And thus far, the results have been encouraging for Robinson. He entered Wednesday's game against Marshall with nearly twice as many pass break-ups (seven) than any other UCF player. Against Kansas State, he had a touchdown-saving tackle where he fought through a blocker - arguably his best play of the season - and he added a 56-yard fumble recovery for a score against UAB.

And even though Robinson failed to snag an interception in the first six games, his improved coverage techniques has forced quarterbacks to shy away from throwing the ball to his side of the field.

``I'm just trying to not allow them to catch anything on me whether it's the deep ball or the short ball,'' said Robinson, a sophomore from Sunrise, Fla. ``They're not going to me as much as they did last year and that's a plus. I just want to continue to make plays and I know that there are some balls that I should have (intercepted) instead of just knocking them down. I'm working on getting better at that.''


NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Many of UCF's players and coaches said their phones were flooded with voice mails and text messages following last week's 42-7 blowout defeat of UAB, a game that was televised nationally by ESPN.

With Wednesday's game against Marshall once again televised by ESPN, UCF's players and coaches were expecting similar reactions from the friends and families who were able to watch the game from different parts of the country.

As for O'Leary, he likes the effect playing on ESPN has on UCF's recruiting throughout Florida and the Southeastern United States. He said he received calls from several high school coaches in the state congratulating him on UCF's big win on national TV last week.

``The high school coaches had a lot of great feedback from the game,'' O'Leary said with a chuckle. ``The big thing about those games is that you want great exposure - you don't want to get exposed. There's a difference.

``The big thing is that it's great exposure for the football program and also for the university,'' O'Leary continued. ``I think the crowd was outstanding. They showed a lot of (crowd shots) from my understanding. The student body was into the game. That helps in recruiting big time. Wednesday night is a hard night to get to a game for high school kids, but I'm sure that most of them caught the game on TV because you're the only game. Everybody's a football junkie so you'd better watch what's going on.''


QUICK SLANTS: When Marshall organized a ``White Out'' for Wednesday's game, UCF agreed to wear their black uniforms for the game. The Knights entered the game 4-1 in their black uniforms over the past two seasons, prompting senior linebacker Derrick Hallman to refer to it as UCF's ``black magic.'' It is believed to be the first time that UCF has won its dark uniforms in a road game since Sept. 2, 2000, at Georgia Tech. Ironically, O'Leary was coaching the Yellow Jackets in that game and traditionally had Georgia Tech dress in their white uniforms. ... One of the perks of playing on Wednesday night for UCF's players has been that they've had most of Saturday off to watch other college football games from around the country. The Knights practiced last Saturday morning, but were finished in time to watch the afternoon and night games. Said senior H-back Ricky Kay: ``All day (last) Saturday I watched tons of football and it was pretty cool to watch some other teams play.'' ... With a freshman quarterback in Jeff Godfrey, O'Leary likes the idea of having offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe on the sideline to talk face-to-face with players. Taaffe, who worked in the press box all of last season, was on the sidelines last Wednesday during the UAB victory and perfectly orchestrated the quarterback shuffle between Godfrey and Rob Calabrese. Said O'Leary: ``I think bringing Charlie down (to the sidelines) solidified some things. I think that kids today, you can talk to them all that you want on the phone, but you're better off texting them. I think face-to-face, eyeball-to-eyeball helps sell some things down there and clears up some things. There's no question, I think it helped the quarterback play.''


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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.