Heading into the game against BYU, the focus was on UCF's quarterback situation. George O'Leary had mentioned if Justin Holman struggled the quarterback would lose his job to transfer Nick Patti. There was even talk about the coaching staff pulling Tyler Harris' redshirt and playing him instead of Holman. Even the Soorting News' write up of the game said that BYU should not be afraid of Justin Holman. Well after UCF's OT victory over BYU last week, I have one question: how do you like them apples?
The talk of benching Justin Holman was silly to start with. He had done nothing to lose his spot. Before the BYU game, Holman had 6 tds and only 2 interceptions. Yes, his game against Houston wasn't impressive he was 6-18 for 102 yards and 2 tds afterall. But that had more to do with the fact that offensive coordinator charlie Taaffe had handcuffed Holman, often calling a conservative game. Infact the Knights ranked 120 in explosive plays and 96 in offensive FEI prior to the BYU game. It was clear that the coordinator was doing the young quarterback no favors.
Well once Taffee unleashed the quarterback against one of the weakest secondaries in the country, the young QB shined. Holman went 30-52 for 326 yards and 3 total tds. The first quarterback in UCF history to ever complete 30 passes in a game, yes that includes Blake Bortles and Daunte Culpepper. UCF's offense went from 120 in explosive plays to 103 and the offensive FEI rank went from 96 to 48. That was do to Holman and his heroic play. Once the handcuffs came off in the second half, Holman shined and left no doubt that the future of e program was in good hands.
Every good quarterback has a game that defines them. A game where their upside comes through and they show they can be counted on to win the game. The BYU game was that moment for Justin Holman. The stats aren't the only thing that leaps out, it was the young qb's leadership. All game the offensive line let him down. He was hit hard and often as the line was no better than a couple of cardboard cutouts. Yet Holman was never seen yelling at his line or getting happy feet and abandoning the pocket early. He would stand in there and take the hits while delivering the ball. Down 24-17, Holman made a pass that most sophomores would be afraid to make. After BYU had gone offsides, Holman had a free play. Typically a young qb would throw the ball away. He instead threw the perfect pass to Josh Reese to tie the game and give UCF all the momentum. It was a play that not even be blake. Bortles would have made his sophomore year.
Justin isn't perfect. He of course needs to improve his accuracy and some of his throws leave you scratching your head. He needs to continue to get the ball out quickly and needs to learn how to throw a soft ball on short routes. But here's the scary part: he's still learning how to be a starter. He has the size, arm strength, and is already ahead of where Blake Bortles was this point his sophomore year. If Charlie Taaffe can blend his conservative nature with how he called the BYU game, Holman will only improve. For the rest of the AAC that's a terrifying thought.