C-USA: For UCF, It's Time to Look at the Future With Freshman Jeff Godfrey

Jon ReinContributor ISeptember 13, 2010

Happy trails, Rob Calabrese!

The junior signal caller from East Islip, N.Y., has squandered yet another opportunity to cement his place as the starting quarterback for the UCF Knights after a heartbreaking loss to the NC State Wolfpack, 28-21.

The same bubble screens and dump off passes to running backs that were the bread and butter against South Dakota in Week 1 led to 10-for-18 passing and two interceptions.

The good news out of a loss like this, however, is that the fans who didn't leave after the Knights' fourth turnover got a chance to look at the much-hyped true freshman, Jeffrey Godfrey.

Here are the statistics for two of the quarterbacks who took snaps in the game:

  1. Quarterback A: 105 yards passing, 35 yards rushing, one touchdown
  2. Quarterback B: 107 yards passing, 53 yards rushing, two touchdowns

Would you believe Quarterback B did this in essentially one quarter worth of playing time, in a relief job?

How about that Quarterback A is supposedly a top-3 ACC quarterback, behind UM's Jacory Harris and FSU's Christian Ponder?

Upon being unleashed late in the third quarter, the Miami Central product showed a combination of speed and arm strength that this offense has lacked since Daunte Culpepper.  With the offensive line getting beat left and right, Godfrey was able to scramble away from pressure and outrun an entire Wolfpack defense.

Working primarily out of the shotgun, Godfrey looked like a right-handed Pat White putting moves on linebackers, single-handily bringing the Knights back into the game. In fact, if not for a late red zone fumble by sophomore receiver Quincy McDuffie, we could potentially be talking about a legendary performance.

UCF head coach, George O'Leary, has said he will play the player who gives his team the best chance to win.  After Godfrey's performance, the choice should be clear heading into a Week 3 matchup against a depleted Buffalo.  

It's a low-pressure situation against a cellar-dwelling MAC program who lost their top offensive threat at running back and head coach, Turner Gill, to Kansas.

Of course, the flip side to this scenario is the obvious question of what happens to Calabrese's psyche if he's to be benched for a third straight season.  When you find a way to blow your chances at starting three times in three seasons (twice to less talented players who could actually manage a game), the psyche has already been blown to smithereens.  

In last season's benching in favor of fifth-year Wake Forest transfer, Brett Hodges, I compared it to the Miami Dolphins' current quarterbacks.  

Sure, Calabrese has the prototypical size and arm strength to be successful (Chad Henne), but for all the arm strength and athletic prowess Hodges lacked, he more than made up for in decision making and pinpoint accuracy (Chad Pennington).  

To go even further on the NFL references, how many quarterbacks have we as fans heard of with incredible talent who could never put it together mentally (JaMarcus Russell, Ryan Leaf, Jeff George, etc.)?

If UCF is serious about shaking that "sleeping giant" tag that's been attached since O'Leary's arrival in 2004, it's time to unleash the beast from Miami-Dade county.  

With a relatively easy schedule (sans a rematch against C-USA West power, Houston away from Brighthouse Stadium), talent at all the skill positions (including a return of running back, Brynn Harvey, by the conference opener) and a defense who returns nine starters, there is zero reason that Godfrey can't be the quarterback of a 9-3 team.

It all starts with Buffalo this weekend.


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