With spring practice over UCF will use summer to build chemistry


Bryce Brimhall / Valencia Voice

Justin Holman will go into the Summer as UCF’s definitive starting quarterback, as coach O’Leary says the battle will be for the No. 2 quarterback position.

What a difference a year makes, this time last year Justin Holman was battling for the starting quarterback position with Pete DiNovo, now Holman is touted as the most improved player of the spring by head coach George O’Leary.

Holman threw for 166 yards and two touchdowns in UCF’s Spring Game as the first team defeated the second team 20-6 on Saturday at Bright House Networks Stadium.

“Obviously he’s more poised out there from last year,” said O’Leary about his second-year quarterback. “He understands the game better and it’s about just continually working with him. But obviously he’s the best quarterback we have to work with right now.”

Wide receiver is one of the positions the Knights wanted to get a good look at during the spring as four of the top pass catchers from 2014 have since moved on due to graduation or the NFL. Holman plans on getting together with the unit as often as he can over the summer to build chemistry.

“I felt like it went really well,” said Holman about how he built chemistry with his receivers over the spring. “Those guys came into the film room exited, wanting to learn everyday and those guys pushed me as well as I pushed them so it was good to get with this group and really mesh with them this spring.

“This Spring was about coming together and getting more of a family atmosphere so it was a really good spring.”

Jordan Akins caught one of Holman’s touchdowns as he went for 58 yards on six catches, while freshman Tre’Quan Smith had a few big plays for the second team offense. Both should get significant playing time in 2015 along with Taylor Oldham — who left the game in the first half with an apparent lower body injury.

Tight end Kevin Miller scored the other touchdown for the first team, as he caught a 10-yard pass in the endzone from Holman early in the first quarter.

While offense was tough to come by for both units, defense was on display for the Knights. Defensive lineman Thomas Niles finished the game with three sacks and was praised by coach O’Leary as emerging as one of the leaders during the spring.

“UCF is always known for great defenses,” said Niles following the Spring Game. “So I want to keep the tradition of great defenses going and when you play great defenses it’s easier for the offense to just score points, it’s easier to just win the game overall.”

Defensive back Chris Williams had ten tackles on the day and nearly returned an interception back for a touchdown during the first quarter. Defensive back will be another position that will be interesting to watch come the fall, as UCF is replacing all four starting defensive backs from a year ago.

William Stanback did not play during the Spring Game due to a knee injury said coach O’Leary, but it isn’t anything that should threaten his availability for then the season starts in the fall.

The Knights will now go into the summer as they prepare to open up the season on at Bright House Networks Stadium on September 3 against FIU.