UCF coach George O'Leary had a lot to talk about following Sunday's practice. He declared a starting quarterback - redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo - and also addressed the FoxSports.com report that he was thinking of retiring after the opener to hand the program over to Brent Key.
On naming Pete DiNovo as the starting quarterback:
"I'm naming him the No. 1 quarterback going into the first game with Holman and Patti 2A and B and Harris three. I'm still undecided on two, but (DiNovo) from a management standpoint, from the sidelines to the field, had the consistency that I was looking for. I thought Pete elevated himself this past week."
On whether he thought Pete may have had the edge following spring:
"If I did, I would have said it after the spring. No. I think basically they went out and we evaluate every day. We ran two skellies. We ran a lot of evaluation. He just seemed to manage the team the best with the type of team we have. It's not a dead issue, but right now he's the No. 1 quarterback and he'll take the No. 1 reps. Holman and Patti are taking the two reps until we make a decision and they separate themselves. Harris is three. Harris probably has the strongest arm of the four of them, but again from a youngness standpoint he's probably not ready. But he does a lot of good things out there."
On DiNovo being cool under pressure:
"That was it. I kicked the coaches off the field this week for a lot of tag scrimmage. Just when you look at that and break it down, he handles sideline to huddle, management huddle, the best of the four as far as I was concerned. That was really the deciding factor as far as what he does. He can basically we do we want done. I think all four can play. I think right now we're in a good situation. They need to move on. He's one. Again, Holman and Patti are still in the running as far as what's going on. Right now, if we were playing a game tomorrow against Penn State he'd be the starting quarterback."
On DiNovo working with an offense that's missing three key starters who have been out with injuries:
"That was part of the problem was evaluating. I think the defensive line put a lot of heat on the quarterbacks with people in their face more than they should have been. I think he reacted the best. He has probably the best avoid-feet as far as getting things done and still has the ability to make some plays. I've always said you want to look at quarterbacks that can take a bad play and make a good play out of it and he certainly can do that."
Whether there's a timetable for the return of center Joey Grant and wide receivers Breshad Perriman and Rannell Hall:
"They're coming back. In fact Grant was in individuals today and the other guys are due back the 18th. Perriman may be in this week coming up. They'll all be back in full uniform in a full-pad practice the 18th. That gives us two weeks before the first game."
On the defense, and players coming back who had been injured a season ago:
"We lost some kids at linebacker that got banged up. I thought defensively we've had a really good preseason camp. We're playing 88 guys out here. That's the most I've ever had a chance to play from a depth standpoint. Usually we're two-and-half strings. We've been playing four deep. Obviously the threes and fours, some of those threes I'm looking to see if they can help us with the twos. That's why I scrimmage them. The fours are probably guys you're looking at for the future as far as show team guys. Everybody on the team will have a role."
On true freshman Jordan Franks, who played wide receiver in high school and is now a second-team linebacker:
"He's a good athlete. He can run. He runs. He's smart. He's a 6-3 and a half, 225-pound guy that has good instincts, good smartness on the field. That's what you need. He has great football sense out there."
On whether he's thinking about stepping down:
"Shannon (Owens-Green) gave me a call last night about 10:30. I just got home. I was asked about some article by Fox. I've never spoken to this fellow. I don't know what's going on there. If you know my history, I'm not one to start something and not finish. I'm always going to finish."
So he's not going to retire after the Penn State game?
"Unless someone knows something I don't. I don't plan on it. I don't know where that came from. I really don't. I don't know who the sources are and I don't really care. The only source I worry about is my source, me, as far as making a decision. I have every intention of coaching 13 games this year and doing what I need to do to get this team to win."
On whether Brent Key would a solid choice to replace him:
"You always like to promote from within the staff if you can. Obviously there's a couple guys on staff that have that opportunity. That's the AD and the president's decision."
On the fact O'Leary's agent, Jack Reale, is fired up about the report and is demanding that Bruce Feldman reveal his sources:
"Jack? That's Jack's job. That's why I pay him. I don't know where that came from. It caused a lot of questions from everybody. My phone is ringing off the hook. Manny knows. He was in my office and the phone is ringing off the hook. I just laugh about it because it didn't come from me. I've never talked to that gentleman. In fact, I looked up the records. The last time (Feldman) was on this campus was 2011. I haven't spoken to him. I don't know where that came from. You just move on. I didn't even address it with the players because they know if something was up I'd talk to them about it."
On whether he's "grooming" Brent Key to be the next head coach:
"I'm not grooming him. I think head coaches, I think there's a difference in those guys as far as leadership skills and stuff of that sort. He's been around 16 years. Again, you don't want to change the culture of the program especially if things are going right. You don't want to fix what's not broken. That's really John Hitt's decision and Todd Stansbury's decision. Would I like to see it in-house? Yeah. But there will be a couple guys and hopefully so because I think we've got a great staff and guys who work very hard, whenever I do leave."
On the importance of continuity:
"I think stability and continuity is the key. I think if you look at coaching, it's stability. Guys keeping guys around who knows what's going on. Not just in football, but in school, academically, the weight room, everything. It's not a new lesson plan, new teaching thing you have to get done. But again, that's far away as far as I'm concerned. I'm anxious to coach. Again, it's something I enjoy doing. The day comes that I don't want to coach anymore, it won't be a secret. I'll just not show up."
On his health:
"Yeah. I hope so. I don't know what's going on. At my age you're as healthy as you can be, I guess, unless lightning hits me. Again, it was something said to someone. I don't know where it came from, but it didn't come from me."
On whether he addressed it with the staff:
"I told them that I had two sources that heard Marty (O'Leary) was going to open up a car wash. We'll have to check to see if it's right."
Whether today was always the day he wanted a quarterback named:
"It's time. I wanted to name one last week and I thought they all were not as consistent. It was like a roller coaster. The defense was putting some heat on them too. I thought the line got solidified a little bit and we started putting hats on people. Again, I'm more about managing the game right now with the current players we have. I thought Pete did the best job of that when the coaches weren't on the field with everybody, when it was just myself. We did a bunch of that this past week when it was just myself out there, tag scrimmaging, just to see how they took the sideline, how they took the plays from the coaches on the side and how they addressed the huddle. Just their leadership and fieldmanship on the field. Again, I think they all have an ability to help us this year, but I think Pete, because of that factor, was a notch above the others."
On finalizing a depth chart:
"I won't have the depth chart until school starts on the 18th. I have a first and second string, but there's some third guys that I'm looking at. That's why I scrimmaged them, to see if they can help us with the twos. I'm not worried about the depth chart. I'm worried about who can help us win."
On whether Brent Key could have left UCF for other jobs:
"He's had other opportunities at SEC schools. He likes it here. He's been around for what, 16 years with me. That's not even something that I talk with him about. As a coach you like to see things move in the same direction."
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