NCF Nation: Jonathan Davis
2010 conference record: 7-1, conference champs
Offense: 7, defense 4, punter/kicker 2
QB Jeff Godfrey, CB Kemal Ishmael, RB Ronnie Weaver
DE Bruce Miller, LB Derrick Hallman, OL Jah Reid
2010 statistical leaders (* denotes returners)
Rushing: Weaver (186 carries, 890 yards, 11 TDs)*
Passing: Godfrey (159-of-238 for 2,159 yards, 13 TDs, 8 INTs)*
Receiving: Watters (47 catches, 651 yards, 2 TDs)
Tackles: Ishmael* (93)
Sacks: Miller, Darius Nall (8.5 each)
Interceptions: Reggie Weams (five)
1. Brynn Harvey is back. Harvey looked like his old self in the spring, returning after a knee injury cost him all of 2010. His addition gives UCF a loaded backfield with Weaver and Latavius Murray also returning, giving the Knights plenty of options.
2. Troy Davis is a player. Davis was impressive in the spring, with five sacks in the spring game, and should help fill the big shoes of the departed Bruce Miller, who left as the school-record holder in sacks. Davis, a rising junior, had 5.5 sacks last season and a big one at the end of the Georgia game, so he has experience. He showed he is more than capable of starting.
3. Godfrey showed improvement. After an outstanding freshman season, Godfrey showed again in the spring why he is the future of the program. He looked poised, and more polished in leading the offense and will only get better as time goes on.
1. Who will emerge as a playmaker at receiver? O’Leary has often said he wants Quincy McDuffie to take it to the next level so the Knights can utilize his vaunted speed. Well now is his chance with Brian Watters, Kamar Aiken and Jamar Newsome gone. Aside from McDuffie, A.J. Guyton will also be counted on as a key contributor.
2. Which linebacker will step up? Three starters are gone, making this a position that could feature a true freshman in Leilon Willingham making some plays. Two players who did well in the spring were not even at their positions at this time last year. Jonathan Davis is a converted running back and Ray Shipman played basketball at Florida before deciding to give football a try.
3. Leadership. UCF lost a great deal of senior leadership with the graduation of players like Miller, Hallman and Reid, who helped lay the foundation for a Top-25 season and first-ever bowl win. Which players will step up and take on that role in 2011?
Calabrese completed 11 of 17 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown and had 90 rushing yards, including a 66-yard run for another score. He made decisions on the field that he hadn’t in the past two years as a part-time starter and played like he was in total command of the offense.
“I think they all have opportunities to play, but I think when you list who the starter is, I think it it would be the same way we practiced all year: it would be one, two, three as far as [Rob] Calabrese, [Jeffrey] Godfrey and [L.D.] Crow,” O’Leary said. “I wouldn’t hesitate putting any of them in now in certain situations.
“But I think heading into the spring and the summer and the skellies [seven-on-seven skeleton drills] and the conditioning and the chemistry that’s required, I think the leadership has got to come from the guy with the experience and that’s Rob. Again, I was very, very pleased with those other guys and they’re obviously going to help us this year.”
Godfrey, a freshman, made a valiant push for the starting job, but his lack of his experience is what set the two apart. From the beginning of spring camp it was Calabrese’s job to lose and he never let go of it. He took almost all of the snaps with the first team and showed the poise and maturity O’Leary said at the beginning of camp that he wanted to see out of his starting quarterback.
After the spring game O’Leary also announced that starting running back Brynn Harvey might not be ready to play until after the nonconference season, which is a big blow to the Knights running game.
Harvey suffered a knee injury during spring camp and after meeting with doctors last week, the team determined that Harvey's injury is more severe than previously thought. Harvey was the team’s top rusher last season, though several other running backs, including Brendan Kelly and Jonathan Davis have played well in Harvey’s absence.
“Hopefully [Harvey will be back] sooner, but my experience is you don’t count on that,” O’Leary said of Harvey’s timetable. “But I think both of them [Kelly and Davis] are good enough to get into the game and get the necessary yards for us to be successful.”
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that coach George O’Leary thinks Harvey could be back in August, but the team won’t definitively know Harvey’s status until after he sees doctors next week.
“The swelling’s gone down,” O’Leary told the paper. “They’re going in to look at it next week, is my understanding. … I’m thinking probably late August he’ll be back. September could be iffy. Middle of September maybe. He could miss a game, maybe the first game, but according to what the doctor said he should be fine. In two and a half months, he should be running and all that. Hopefully we get him back as soon as we can.”
Harvey was the Knights top running back last season with 1,109 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Currently, redshirt sophomore Brendan Kelly is atop the depth chart and the leading candidate to replace Harvey. Kelly rushed for 47 yards on 11 carries last season.
Sophomore Jonathan Davis, who was the backup as a true freshman last season, is third on the depth chart. He had 310 yards and four touchdowns last year.
Harvey was injured during the first play of Saturday’s scrimmage and will require surgery. The date of the surgery is not yet known.
The university is hopeful that Harvey will be back by fall camp in August.
Harvey’s injury further depletes the running back corps that took a hit this weekend when coach George O’Leary announced he was suspending nine players indefinitely for missing class. Second-string running back Jonathan Davis was among the group that included junior wide receivers Kamar Aiken and A.J. Guyton, freshman wide receiver Nico Flores and freshman defensive back A.J. Bouye.
Brandon Davis, Kerlon Williams and Brendan Kelly are the remaining players available to split reps during spring practice.
How the game was won: Rutgers was able to limit Central Florida’s running game and convert quarterback Brett Hodges' two turnovers into touchdowns. After playing even with the Scarlet Knights early, Central Florida couldn’t get closer than four points and Rutgers was able to secure the game in the second half.
Turning point: Rutgers linebacker Damaso Munoz intercepted Brett Hodges on the first drive of the game, setting up Rutgers' first score, and set the tone for the rest of the game. Hodges threw two interceptions, including one that was returned for a touchdown.
Stat of the game: Central Florida’s 32 rushing yards is the second-lowest total of the season. The Knights had just 15 rushing yards against Southern Miss on Sept. 12. Running back Brynn Harvey, who came into the game off three consecutive 100-yard rushing games, had just 30 yards on 13 carries.
Unsung hero of the game: UCF quarterback Rob Calabrese came in late in the fourth quarter for injured starter Brett Hodges and led the Knights on a 10-play, 75-yard drive to cut the lead to 38-24 with 2:23 remaining.
What it means: While this is not the way Central Florida wanted to end its season, it has to be encouraged by the late play of Calabrese and running back Jonathan Davis, who are the future of the team. Both came in during the fourth quarter and helped the Knights score their final touchdown. There are a lot of young players on this team and the experience will serve them in 2010.