That's right, Pete DiNovo,
The reason I bring this up as UCF prepares for Saturday's monumental game against Penn State at Dublin's iconic Croke Park is to point out just how nonsensical and antiquated college coaches can be when dealing with today's freshmen. Yes, DiNovo may be officially listed as a freshman, but it's becoming more and more obvious that freshmen quarterbacks of today are like junior or senior QBs from yesteryear.
They have been groomed for this moment since Pop Warner. They play football year-around in 7-on-7 passing leagues. They all go to quarterback camps and have their own personal quarterback gurus. They run offenses in high school that are much more sophisticated than the offenses of the past.
"The quarterbacks that come into college today are much more advanced than they used to be," UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe says. "The quarterbacks of today come from much more advanced passing and spread offenses in high school. Ten years ago, I used to have to ask high school quarterbacks if they'd ever lined up in the shotgun; now I have to ask them, 'Son, have you ever taken a snap under center?' "
All you have to do is look at the last two
This isn't to say DiNovo will do the same and make UCF fans forget the greatness of Blake Bortles, but you just never know in today's whacked-out world of college football. Look at what happened Thursday night when Kenny Hill started his first game at Texas A&M as Manziel's successor. He broke Manziel's single-game passing record with 511 yards in a shocking 52-28 rout at No. 9 South Carolina and led the Aggies to 680 yards of total offense — more than the Gamecocks have given up in the history of their program.
Now it's DiNovo's turn to show what he can do in his first game of his first season as a starter. Not that there's any pressure or anything. I mean, all he has to do is replace Bortles while becoming the first freshman to start a UCF season opener at quarterback since
Maybe in the past, UCF fans would be willing to let DiNovo take his lumps and grow into the job, but not in today's college football where quarterbacks — even freshmen — are expected to excel immediately.
At UCF's pep rally in Dublin on Friday, longtime Knights fan Gary Brown and wife, Sandy, said they are expecting a huge season from DiNovo. "We're already calling him Petey Football!" Gary said and smiled.
"I don't think there will be much of drop off at all," said Dave Rogers, another UCF fan from Orlando. "Pete's ready. If he weren't Coach O'Leary wouldn't be starting him."
As the pep band played, the cheerleaders chanted and O'Leary himself led the pep rally in a rousing rendition of the "Go Knights" cheer, nearly every fan I talked to said they expected UCF to have another amazing season. The reasons are obvious. The Knights return 15 starters, a great defense, great receivers and a big, fast and talented running back. The only real question mark is how the new quarterback will perform.
DiNovo has an incredible opportunity today to start his own legacy at UCF and the Knights themselves have an opportunity to prove that last season wasn't just a fluke.
"We made our presence known on the national scene last year," UCF athletic director Todd Stansbury told the hugging, mugging, Guinness-chugging crowd at the downtown Dublin pep rally. "Now we're making our presence known on the international scene."
We will see today if UCF and its freshman quarterback are prepared to hit the ground running on what may be a drizzly, blustery day in Dublin.
But as the Irish like to say:
"There's no need to fear the wind if your haystacks are tied down."