John Denton's Knights Insider Insights

Sept. 3, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - When UCF legendary quarterback Daunte Culpepper visited campus last season as his No. 8 was honored, he predicted that current Knights' quarterback Jeff Godfrey would someday break all of his records.

Just a game into his sophomore season, Godfrey seems well on his way to becoming the most prolific running quarterback in school history.

When Godfrey scored on runs of seven, one and 16 yards in the first half Saturday night of UCF's 62-0 defeat of Charleston Southern, UCF's star quarterback moved closer to Culpepper's all-time mark for rushing TDs by a quarterback with 24. Godfrey's three rushing TDs equaled the UCF record for rushing TDs by a quarterback in a game, a mark set by Culpepper in 1998 against Eastern Illinois.

``Jeff made three or four really good reads and did a good job of getting us some extra yardage,'' O'Leary said. ``I've told him that you can replace a lot of players, but you can't replace the quarterback so he did a good job of getting out of bounds and sliding. I thought he hung in the pocket more like we wanted him to do. He was pressured some with some sloppy play from the tackle position, but for the most part he read the right keys and made some plays for us.''

Just 15 games into his college career, Godfrey already has 13 rushing touchdowns. He scored on a nifty belly play around left end for UCF's first points of the season and then snuck across from one yard midway through the second period. Then, Godfrey's 16-yard sprint on an option keeper was a thing of beauty as he dodged defenders and vaulted his body across the goal line and inside the pylon.

Godfrey's three rushing scores were a personal career high. He ran for two scores in three different games as a freshman. He had a streak of four consecutive games with a rushing touchdown last season and a stretch of getting into the end zone in six of seven games at one point.

FASTEST UCF TEAM EVER: One of UCF's main points of emphasis offensively this season is to get more ``chunk plays,'' as O'Leary refers to them. O'Leary wants his offense to take more shots down the field in the passing game - hence his insistence that quarterback Jeff Godfrey stay in the pocket longer this season rather than being so quick to scramble.

UCF is also making a concerted effort to get the ball into the hands of speedster Quincy McDuffie and punt return specialist Josh Robinson - UCF's two fastest players. McDuffie, who once set the Orlando metro record for the 200 meters in track, is a starter at receiver and is hoping to have similar success as he's had at returning kickoffs where he's scored three times the past two years.

O'Leary feels like this UCF team could very well be the fastest of the eight that he's coached. How fast are the Knights? One freshman expected to contribute this season - Rannell Hall - goes by the nickname of ``Speedy.''

``We look quicker out there as far as closing to the ball on defense and offensively we've added some speed,'' O'Leary said. ``We're trying to get the ball in the hands of McDuffie more with his speed. I've been impressed because we've been rolling six receivers in there.''

WILD KNIGHT: With senior Rob Calabrese going down to another season-ending knee injury and DaMarcus Smith not enrolling at UCF, the Knights had to scramble in training camp to find a third quarterback.

The choice was starting tailback Ronnie Weaver, who has never played quarterback at any level of football and throws the ball left-handed. But Weaver was the pick because of his football smarts and knowledge of the offense, feeling he could successfully operate out of the ``Wild Knight'' formation.

Weaver admitted that he's still trying to get comfortable playing the new position. UCF likely will only use it in emergency situations, but could sprinkle it into game plans because it allows the team to get its entire stable of standout running backs on the field. Weaver will be splitting time at tailback with Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey this season.

``I'm getting more comfortable, but you can never teach experience. I have experience at running back, but not at quarterback. But with each snap I'm getting there and coach is feeling more comfortable with me,'' Weaver said. ``I'm asking a lot of questions and (running backs) Coach (Danny) Barrett is helping me out a lot with his experience as a quarterback. It's a work in progress and I'm developing as fast as I can.''

ETC: Redshirt freshman Torrian Wilson, a top recruit from 2010, made his first collegiate start at right tackle in place of senior Nick Pieschel. Pieschel, who has 32 career starts to his credit, suffered a minor injury during practice and was held out as a precautionary measure, O'Leary said. ... Backup safety Lyle Dankenbring, a redshirt junior, made his mark on special teams Saturday night, recording tackles on three first-half kickoffs. The third one was a hard hit on Estevan Cintron, who fumbled the ball as he was stripped by Ronnie Weaver. Kerlon Williams recovered the loose ball. Dankenbring, who had a team-high six tackles, appeared to injure his shoulder in the third quarter following a collision with Charleston Southern receiver Nathan Perera. ... When senior tight end Adam Nissley hauled in a 45-yard catch late in the second period it not only dug the Knights out of a second-and-17 situation, it was the longest reception of his career. Nissley, who figures to be more involved in the passing game this season, had a previous long of 34 yards in 2009. ... How dominant was UCF defensively in the first half? Charleston Southern had negative seven yards rushing, only one first down and just 21 yards of total offense in the first two quarters. The Buccaneers didn't drive across the 50-yard line in the first half and got into UCF territory only after a Robinson fumbled punt return. ... Freshman kicker Shawn Moffitt made his collegiate debut Saturday night, booting five extra points. He replaced starter Nick Cattoi after his third extra point ricocheted off the upright. Moffitt set the Florida high school state record with 130 consecutive extra points while prepping at Dr. Phillips High School. Moffitt missed a 42-yard field goal (wide left) with 1:13 left in the third quarter. ... Highly touted freshman linebacker Leilon Willingham started at outside linebacker and made his first tackle midway through the first quarter, stuffing Charleston Southern's B.J. Hackworth for no gain.

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