Other Florida Teams
UCF Roundup 8/11/04
By Alan Schmadtke
Aug 11, 2004
(sun-sentinel.com) - Offensive coordinator Tim Salem was surprised Sunday when he picked up the newspaper and discovered one of his jobs had been done for him. Central Florida, it seemed, had picked its quarterback.
Salem, in his first year at UCF, read that the starting job "is Steven Moffett's to lose."
That's an inaccurate statement," Salem said. "It's Steve Moffett's job to work, earn and secure. He's got more work to do."
Especially in the First Season P.R. -- Post Ryan.
Ryan Schneider's quarterbacking ended three games prematurely, in November when he was suspended for signing a professor's name to a permission slip to miss class on road trips. He still exited as UCF's No. 2 passer (10,976 yards, 82 touchdowns), behind Daunte Culpepper.
Replacing Schneider isn't easy.
UCF's new offense is a West Coast model, and coach George O'Leary and Salem are less concerned about passing yards than controlling the line of scrimmage, making good decisions and winning.
"I don't know all of O'Leary's offense, but I know all that he's taught me," Moffett said.
Salem is determined to stage a competitive quarterback derby. He called Brandon Sumner, a junior from Daytona Beach "probably right now the best student of the game we have."
And, he reminded, the difference between Sumner and Moffett is not that many snaps in college, and just 37 pass attempts. Freshman Kyle Israel is the other scholarship QB on the roster.
Moffett was supposed to redshirt last season, but after Schneider was dismissed, Moffett started the Knights' final three games. He also emerged from spring practice atop the depth chart.
Moffett's hold on the job was strengthened when backup Gerry Connell quit after a disagreement with O'Leary about Connell's summer schedule. Connell said he needed to work, teammates said, and O'Leary wanted him to work out.
When the Knights started their summer skeleton drills with quarterbacks, running backs and receivers vs. linebackers and defensive backs, Moffett was first in line. Sumner and Israel followed.
As Moffett gained a command of his footwork and Salem's offensive system, his polish rubbed off in another area. O'Leary and Salem want a quarterback with an edge. Coming out of spring, Moffett was full of hushed tones and smiles. As two-a-days loom, he sounds halfway home.
"I got comfortable around the guys," Moffett said. "At first I didn't want to go off on them because I didn't know how they would respond be-cause I was so young. Now when I ask them to do something, they respond."
At the end of UCF's first day back on the field, tight end coach Eric Green patted Moffett on the back and told him he was better in the huddle than at the end of the spring.
"Steve, he's not a very mean person," wide receiver Tavaris Capers said. "He's a happy person. He's a friendly person. I don't know if he can be mean, a person smiling like that. But he's going to be a great leader."
O'Leary takes a cautious approach with Moffett.
"He's still very young, and this is very much a process of daily work, daily coaching," Salem said. "He needs to put roots in the ground."
Moffett left spring practice weighing 190 pounds. Four months later, before a bout of strep throat, he was up to 213. Even with a sickness-induced drop of 5 pounds, the growth in his arms and chest are evident.
It's the inside growth the Knights need most. When Schneider was suspended the final three games, former coach Mike Kruczek asked Moffett if he wanted to give up his redshirt season. Moffett's answer: "Absolutely."
The Knights went 0-3 in that span with Moffett getting a crash course in game-day speed and mental acuity. He was 21-41 passing, for 168 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns. (Sumner saw limited time against Ohio University, going 1 of 4.) Moffett's highlight was a 55-yard run for a touchdown vs. Marshall, UCF's longest from scrimmage of the year.
"He was lost out there sometimes," Capers said. "As a freshman, he had the jitters." Moffett agrees with that.
"I got in the huddle, I couldn't remember things," he said. "I wasn't sure, the other guys weren't sure, and I was supposed to know."
He does not regret giving up a redshirt season. He has little experience, but at least he has some as the Knights prepare for their Sept. 4 opener at Wisconsin.
"I know what I'm getting into this year," he said. "I don't know about playing in front of 70,000. I haven't done that yet. But I want it to happen more than once, so it's got to happen a first time."
For that, he must win the job.
-Athletic Director Steve Orsini had a goal to trim some of UCF's bloated football schedules this summer. Instead, he's tracking to add a three-game series with Florida State -- one of them for the Florida Citrus Bowl.
With speculation that the NCAA could add a 12th game back to schedules, possibly by 2005 but likely for 2006, FSU's Dave Hart recently called Orsini looking for games. O'Leary lists Florida's Division I-A teams among his non-conference preferences, and Orsini wants to find a place for the Seminoles.
A projected first game is for 2006. The others wouldn't necessarily come in consecutive seasons.
UCF has six non-conference games in 2006. That means it would have to get rid of three for an 11-game schedule, two for a 12-game slate. Florida (in Gainesville) and USF (in Orlando) are among the opponents.
USF is scheduled to be the first I-A in-state opponent to play the Knights in Orlando, in 2005. Miami is scheduled to come to Orlando in 2009 as part of a three-game series.
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