With Rob Calabrese Out, Who Runs UCF's "WildKnight" Package?
"In Godfrey We Trust."
This is the motto that has spread like wildfire amongst the UCF fanbase since Jeffrey Godfrey's coming-out party against NC State.
Just as quickly, the distaste for junior quarterback Rob Calabrese has subsided. This is in large part due to his contributions in the brand new "WildKnight" package that offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe has been installing in the last two games.
To his credit, the package has been successful in wins against UAB and Marshall.
If UF's Trey Burton is "Tebow Lite," Calabrese is at least "Tebow High Life." For 10 plays a game, he is capable of going into a game that he's not starting in and playing relaxed football. His combination of arm strength and running ability (10 yards per carry against UAB) makes him a great point guard in the "WildKnight."
However, that all could be coming to an end before it really begins.
The Orlando Sentinel is reporting Calabrese could be out for most, if not all, of the remainder of the season due to a knee injury sustained on his goal line touchdown run this past Wednesday against Marshall.
After his injury, Godfrey was left to finish off the game without any relief appearances. While every bit as exciting as advertised, there were times in the second half where he could have used a moment or two on the sidelines with Taaffe for some corrections.
The only way this is going to happen is the continuous installation of the "WildKnight." Like the Miami Dolphins in 2008, this single-wing formation is still in its infancy, which makes it difficult for teams to game-plan. With only three plays being run out of the formation (QB Draw, Sweep, Play Action) so far, there are countless possibilities and looks that can be put together to keep opposing defenses honest.
In theory, there could be three different "point guards" to handle the duties.
1) Sophomore WR Quincy McDuffie
Without a doubt the fastest player on the offense, McDuffie can hurt you in several ways. Running an option, he is one of the few players who can make it out to the edge and burn a defense down the sidelines. To go even further, formations can include Godfrey where a possible reverse pass option can be drawn up to take advantage of McDuffie's downfield speed.
He basically would serve as a Jeff Demps/Darren McFadden/Noel Devine of the offense.
2) Sophomore WR/QB Nico Flores
Ranked the No. 31 quarterback in the 2009 recruiting class (according to Rivals), the North Miami product could basically run this package as Calabrese did. His combination of speed and arm strength (as well as knowledge of the spread offense from his high school days) would force teams to stay on their toes.
In fact, having worked as a wide receiver since spring practices, he can be used in motion the same way Godfrey could with a reverse pass option.
He would most resemble an actual quarterback running a spread option, a la Auburn's Cam Newton or NC State's Russell Wilson.
3) Running Backs Brynn Harvey/Ronnie Weaver/Brendan Kelly
As a trio of power backs, this formation would resemble the ones used by the Miami Dolphins with Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams. In short yardage situations, the holy trinity of Harvey, Weaver and Kelly can plow through a line and get those extra yards.
With the offensive line showing off its strength and ability to open up running lanes since the win against Buffalo, this could very easily be the look on 3rd-and-short that keeps George O'Leary's time management method of offense rolling.
The best comparison to this would be former Arkansas fullback (and current Cleveland Brown running back) Peyton Hillis' role in the old WildHog under former offensive coordinator (and current Miami Dolphins quarterback coach) David Lee.
Granted, adding these players to the mix is no easy task. Any sort of installation could take a few weeks of practice for attempting to execute in a game. With home games against reigning C-USA champions East Carolina and always competitive Southern Miss, the Knights might not have that luxury.
I would suspect the formation will be a work in progress from homecoming against Rice all the way up to a potential Conference USA championship and any bowl berths.
Regardless of what route the Knights choose, they should be fun to watch down the stretch.
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