The first team starters, playing under the ‘UCF’ title, beat their comrades-in-reserve, the ‘Knights’ handily on Saturday afternoon by a margin of 25-10. None of the three quarterbacks looked leaps and bounds ahead of the competition, but O’Leary confirmed that he has made his decision, and will announce on Monday.
“I think one has separated himself from the others,” said O’Leary. “He’s not where he needs to be, but I think he has separated himself.”
Holman may have looked the most polished, going 18-31 with 165 yards without a turnover or a score. He appeared most confident and made fewer mistakes than the competition, and is the only one with game-time experience.
DiNovo, the dark horse from the bottom of the roster, saw the first action behind center today. He also had the only passing touchdown, completed 10 of 20 for 117 yards and an interception.
Freshman Tyler Harris saw very little game-action going 5-11 with 38 yards and an ill-advised interception with the first half expiring.
Though the game held critical influence, O’Leary said that the decision goes back to “since we started putting dogs on and stuff, the kid’s reacted a little better to some of the pressure that he’s had to deal with.”
It is not a job set in cement, likely it is more comparable to wet sand. There is very much a competition to be held over summer camp and during the season according to O’Leary.
“He’s just the guy headed into pre-season,” he said. “Hopefully it’s the right decision and he keeps it. I’m always going to play the people that are more productive.”
There were two safeties in the first half, two interceptions thrown, a fumble lost, a disparaging difference in talent and experience between the teams involved, and more than a fair share of drops, mental mistakes and physical blunders.
It was, after all, only a spring game.
Mistakes don’t carry the same weight that they would in September, as the coaching staff is using every play as a last minute evaluation for the season to come.
From the exhibition, it can be gleaned that:
1. O’Leary will be leaning in favor of consistency from his starter, not big play ability.
2. William Stanback will be the crutch this offense in transition leans most heavily upon in the coming months. The emerging talent scorched the reserves for 108 yards on 5 carries, including a 70 yard score.
3. JJ Worton has the ability to make this transition much easier for the starter-to-be named. The sure-handed receiver brought in a 32-yard pass while taking a vicious hit, then spun to stay on his feet and reach the end zone for the game’s first (and only) passing touchdown.
4. Thomas Niles will anchor the pass rush. The defensive lineman had 6 sacks on the day, even if it was against the second and third stringers. Niles is a key returner in keeping this team competitive.
A brief respite will give way on July 30, the first day of team activities. From there the Knights have only a month before their season opener in Dublin, Ireland against Penn State.