ORLANDO, Fla – The second coming of spring under Coach Frost arrived with significantly less intrigue than the first, a loss born from the stability provided in an established system. In its second rendition, Head Coach Scott Frosts’ UCFastival was about refinement and technique rather than excavation, discovery, and implementation.
“I was pleased with it. I thought the enthusiasm was good. Our culture is so much better,” said Head Coach Scott Frost.
“Overall spring practice is more important to me than this game, and we made a tone of progress this spring. I think some of that showed up tonight and some of it didn’t.
Some things that stood out against the vanilla background on an inter-team scrimmage:
• Tristan Payton is immensely talented. Besides showing off the monster cannon that was good for seven against USF (completing a 42 yard flea-flicker), Payton got loose for a touchdown and was an open target all day for quarterback Pete DiNovo. The problem? UCF will be without his services for the first six games of the season after a filed bowl-season drug test.
“Coming to college and playing football is a growing process and we have a lot of kids that have a lot of things figured out – we have some that still need to grow up a little bit,” commented Frost on the situation.
“Tristan Payton and Neville Clarke played about as well as anybody on the field tonight but we’re not going to have them for six games because they need to learn some lessons and grow up. We’re going to put our arms around them and embrace them as part of this team, it’s a hard lesson to learn but it’s a mistake they made and they’re going to have to live with it.”
• Jordan Akins is a big man. Akins came down with the rock in the end zone for the game’s first score, going up and ripping the ball from the air while wearing two defenders. He is the most veteran presence left amongst the skill guys and is a literal man among boys after spending years in the minor league baseball season.
He is poised (yet again) for a breakout season, now two years removed from a horrific ACL tear. If the tight end is not able to put the pieces together for a monster season this year, it may never happen.
• Milton looks better and seemed to get through his reads quick enough, but missed on a few long bombs and will be a work in progress for another complete season. It’s tough to grade a dual-threat quarterback in an exhibition game, but by all accounts, he has had a phenomenal spring.
“Mackenzie has had an unbelievable spring. I’ve been really pleasantly surprised with how much progress he’s made in a short amount of time. Some of that showed up tonight and some of it didn’t, but taken as a whole through spring practice, he’s had as good of a spring as I could have hoped he’d have.”
• Brandon Moore’s name was called continuously through the night. He was pegged with one pass interference call, but had at least two unofficial pass and was thumping all over the field. The sophomore showed a nose for getting to the ball with great effort, taking full advantage of his chance to see the field following his red shirt season.
“Well the first thing I’ll say about Bam is that I really like him as a kid,” said Coach Frost. “He’s been through some things in his life, and the type of person that he is, he’s the type of guy I want to be around. I also love having local kids, he’s from right up the road at Sanford, from Seminole. Those kinds of kids are going to care about this program, those are the types of kids we want to play here.”
“He’s one of several corners that has a ton of talent, but is young and hasn’t really done it yet,” explained Frost. “Corner is one of those positions where we desperately need a couple of these young guys to step up and be ready to play and he’s had a good spring trying to get there.”
The Sanford product is facing down a monumental opportunity to move from off-roster to permanently on the field, and hears all of the chatter and question marks surrounding the Knights’ secondary.
“We’ve heard that since the cure bowl, that we lacked a secondary,” he said. We all just come in every day and watch film and say, let’s just prove everybody wrong.”