UCF Football: Does Pete DiNovo Have What It Takes?

Power Hour Interview: Jeff Sharon

Pete Dinovo

The Power Hour crew was able to chat with Sports Talk Florida UCF insider Jeff Sharon about the upcoming college football season and who will replace Blake Bortles at the University of Central Florida.

“Assuming Pete DiNovo takes the opening snap against Penn State in Ireland on August 30th, he’s gonna be the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener at UCF since Donte Culpeper in 1995,” Sharon said about the potential starting quarterback of UCF.

You can follow Jeff Sharon on Twitter @Jeff_Sharon for the latest UCF football updates.

Listen to the full interview or read the transcript below.

What is everyone thinking now that George O’Leary has named a starting quarterback?

“Oh gosh I wish we had Blake Bortles back another year. No actually, he’s picked his quarterback now it’s Pete DiNovo. He’s never taken a snap in a UCF uniform in a game. Assuming he takes the opening snap against Penn State in Ireland on August 30th, he’s gonna be the first freshman quarterback to start a season opener at UCF since Donte Culpeper in 1995. That’s a long time ago, that’s 19 years ago. So there’s a lot riding on it for this kid. O’Leary talked yesterday about how he likes the way he sort of manages a game and everyone went ‘Oh my gosh he’s gonna be a game manager.’ Well he’s a freshman. He’s 19 years old. I talked to his high school coach actually earlier today on a feature I’m hoping to have up this week for SportsTalkFlorida.com and he said that Pete’s leadership ability…he called him ‘magnetic. was the best word he could use to describe him. Guys tend to gravitate around him. That’s pretty much the same personality trait that Blake Bortles had in his time at USF. I’m not saying I’m expecting big things because he’s only a 19 year old redshirt freshman but I think UCF is going to be in good hands at least for the time being.”

Do you think O’Leary made the right choice in choosing DiNovo?

“I think so. O’Leary talked a lot about how in practices DiNovo did a very solid job of managing the huddle and managing the interaction between the sideline and the huddle. Which is basically his way of saying ‘the train is running on time’ and if he can get down all that basic management stuff as a freshman, much like Blake Bortles did later on his freshman and later sophomore years, then all the sudden you can dump a little more responsibility on him as time goes by. I think its going to be a similar situation with DiNovo at UCF as it is with Bortles in Jacksonville. Even though you hear about Chad Henne all the time, I think that based on what we saw from Blake the other night in the preseason game I think they’d be wise to toss him in and let him in on the job. I think that’s what DiNovo is going to do. Its going to be hard with that early schedule though.”

What have you seen in practice that makes you confident that the defense will be better this year?

“Well the defense is just amazing. O’Leary said this too, which I thought was pretty telling, he said with due respect to all the opponents on this schedule, the toughest secondary that all those quarterbacks that were competing for the job faced, was the one in front of them in practice every day. The defense returns nine starters this year. This is a team that was very opportunistic last year at times. It really grew together as a unit. They get all their leadership back except for EJ Dunson at defensive tackle but they’re still big on the interior and the front four. Terrance Plummer, their best middle linebacker, leading tackler is back. They got all the secondary. They got three seniors and the one sophomore that’s back there, Jacoby Glenn, he started almost every game last year. So the defense is going to be where the center of gravity is for this team in 2014.”

Except for Notre Dame, UCF is the only team in the Power 5 conference not to be ranked in the NCAA top 25, do you think this is acruate

“Well they were not ranked in the coaches poll, which is strictly a function in of the fact that they just lost Blake Bortles. And they lost Storm Johnson, they’re leading rusher from last year. I think if they had those guys come back, it’d be a much different story. But that gigantic question mark that they have surrounding them at the most important possession on the field is the reason they’re sort of I guess you could use the basketball term ‘on the bubble’ in terms of the Top 25.”

The Power Hour airs live every Monday night from 6-7pm ET. Listen on WHBO 1040 The Team in Tampa and WHOO 1080 The Team in Orlando as well as SportsTalkFlorida.com.

Chat with the hosts on Twitter: