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The Beat of Sports with the voice of UCF Sports Marc Daniels. Delivering sports the way you like it - Weekdays 9a-12p


Monday Notebook: UCF's QB1 Battle, The End For The Chain Gang And More

UCF Spring Game

Photo: Getty Images

April 18, 2022

One threw for more yards. The other showed how dangerous he might be running. Both had their moments and the race for the starting QB job at UCF, for now, will pause. Mikey Keane and John Rhys Plumlee and their battle for the starting job will continue when camp opens in August. Head Coach Gus Malzahn praised the play of both after UCF's Spring Game this past Saturday. 

Most spring games are designed to showcase offenses. Quarterbacks were not allowed to be hit on Saturday and that always favors the offense as plays are whistled before additional things can happen that makes the defense look better.

But Gus Malzahn has a nice problem. He has two quarterbacks that have a ton of weapons around them in an offense that looks like it will be able to move the ball and score a lot. 

Mikey Keane put on some weight since the bowl game win over the Gators and clearly feels more comfortable in the offense. Gus Malzahn mentioned on his radio last week that Keane has gotten better in everything he has been asked to do and his teammates have confidence in him. He has accepted the challenge of competition with Plumlee coming in.

Plumlee has impressed as well this spring. While still getting caught up with the QB position, Plumlee has showcased his speed during practices and gave fans a glimpse of how that speed can be used in games with a few nice runs in the spring game.

Plumlee made some nice passes to a dangerous receiving group that can turn a screen pass into a 70-yard play.

Gus Malzahn will make the ultimate decision of who starts game one but whoever gets the nod they know there is a ton of talent to make any quarterback look good. Isaiah Bowser was limited all spring to rest his body and didn't play Saturday but the UCF running back room is deep in talent. Johnny Richardson is electric and Mark-Antony Richards, 6-1 215, is healthy and big. RJ Harvey was set to start last fall before an injury ended his season and should be healthy when fall camp rolls around and then add freshman Jordan McDonald, 6-1 220, who is a beast and add Lake Brantley's Anthony Williams and there is an arsenal of weapons in the backfield.

UCF's receiving group is a QB's dream. Ryan O'Keefe is back after a huge season and Jaylon Robinson is healthy. Add Auburn's top pass catcher last year, Kobe Hudson, and speedster Amari Johnson and Jaylon Griffin, who got caught in a numbers game last year, and the Knights can line up with anyone. Oh, Florida transfer, Kemore Gamble, caught a few passes Saturday and is a really nice addition at tight end with returner Alec Holler.

UCF's defense is strong and deep on the backend with a group of veterans returning in the secondary. The defensive front is solid, where Landon Woodson had three sacks Saturday, and linebackers have a veteran leader in Jeremiah Jean-Baptiste with an opportunity for others to get playing time.

Expectations are high for the Knights and Gus Malzahn believes he has a really good team. Now about that QB battle................relax and let the head coach figure that out...

It's over. Finished. Done. A thing of the past. Yes, one of the last great moments of old-time football will be a thing of the past. The days of grown men dressed in odd looking uniforms with baseball style pants and socks holding two sticks with a chain that measures ten yards trotting out on the football field and stretching out the chain to measure if a ball spotted by a ref- only guessing where a ball should be spotted in the middle of a pile of grown men laying on top of each other- to determine if it's a first down or not. 

For years, the technology has been there to know exactly where the ball was when the previous play ended and determine if a ball made the first down mark. But for decades the NFL has preferred the method of using men with sticks on the sideline trotting out for a measurement. Our late great friend Jerry Greene, the longtime NFL writer and columnist for the Orlando Sentinel, said the league loved the anticipation of a measurement and the crowd reaction. But in recent years, the league has tried to keep the pace of game moving and we rarely get measurements these days. You will often see the head referee just glance to the sideline and often just give the offense the first down.

In 2001, a cricket match used technology to determine if a ball was in or out. The Hawkeye system was created by Paul Hawkins. Tennis first used his system in 2006 at the Miami Open. In tennis, the system became something fans get into by watching the replay, in 3D form, on the jumbotron and cheering as the highlight was shown and react when evidence showed if the ball was in or out.

The USFL returned this past weekend and using a form of Hawkeye, but now even far more advanced, was able to determine now only if a ball was at the line of mark for a first down but tell you exactly how many inches short or above the line to determine first down or not. BOOM!

It is easy to use and determines the result of measurement in seconds, not minutes. Now imagine a crowd of 80,000 looking up at the video board and reacting? Now add a sponsor because the NFL sells everything and you have the future of how we measure the ball. And the future is now.

Spring football leagues have been a place to try new things when it comes to the game and even when it comes to applying technology to advance the game. 

Sadly, those old men wearing odd uniforms holding sticks and a chain are going to be a thing of the past....

So Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson gets ticketed for doing 105 miles-per-hour at four in the morning and it's the media's fault for reporting it? Here's an idea, don't drive 105 anytime and maybe don't be out at four in the morning driving if you don't have too...Celtics beat Nets in thrilling opener of their series and don't play again until Wednesday because no one milks a series like the NBA...We all had an opinion recently when the Dodgers pulled Clayton Kershaw after seven perfect innings. MLB has only had 23 perfect games but Kershaw and manager Dave Roberts agreed it was the right call because of the big picture and season goals. Imagine our reaction if someone here did what Roki Sasaki did. Sasaki tossed a perfect game in Japan's Nippon Professional League on April 10th. He struck out 19 in his perfect performance. A week later Sasaki had eight perfect innings......and was pulled. He struck out the side in the 8th inning and his fastball was hitting 101 miles-per-hour. He has put down 52 consecutive batters but his manager- Tadahito Iguchi- said Sasaki had reached his limit in his opinion and he was thinking about the long run. WHAT? Again, what would we be talking about today in this country if someone did what Sasaki did and was pulled? Sasaki is just 20 years old and was hitting a 100 mph in high school and received a ton of interest from MLB teams but he chose to sign in Japan and turn pro at age 18...

Final note: My youngest daughter attended the Tampa Bay Lightning's game this past Saturday in Tampa against Winnipeg. It was her first NHL game and she came home with a replica of the Stanley Cup championship ring the team received for winning their second consecutive title. Every fan attending the game got the ring in a box and it's no cheap plastic ring. The replica looks real and much heavier than you think. Bally's Sports, the regional sports network that carries Lightning games, sponsored the giveaway promotion and bravo. I was impressed and jealous of what my daughter now has in her possesion.

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