Jamel Turner’s name wasn’t anywhere to be seen on that depth chart and could be seen practicing with the scout team Monday.
“He has plenty of talent and as he progresses, gets more comfortable in a team environment again, he'll have a chance to be a real player. That takes more time for some than others,” Bowden said.
The reality: this is a player who’s been out of football for several years. Even if he’s there physicall, he still has to get used to hitting. There’s the mental aspect of getting acclimated, including the expectations that his former status as a four-star recruit held. It’s quite possible that he could be feeling some of the pressure.
Assuming a role: Nick Rossi, a touted linebacker prospect when he arrived at UA, switched to fullback under Rob Ianello and returned to his natural position when Bowden and his staff arrived. He’s another who didn’t make the depth chart. That’s good for the Zips in that it means that coaching staff feels the talent level has risen. For Rossi, it means a different role, Bowden said.
“Rossi's a great kid. He does everything to help our program. He's a real hard-nosed guy who plays on effort a lot,” Bowden said. “He's found a way to help us out. He'll be a guy on special teams and get valuable backup reps at linebacker. That's the role he needs to play right now.”
And now it’s real: The surest sign that game time is near came toward the end of Monday’s practice when the offense worked against a defensive scout team. That may or may not bear fruit considering that UCF coach George O’Leary lost his entire defensive coaching staff after last season – two to firings and two due to attrition.
“It's a little sloppy when you do that because you have guys playing positions that they haven't played before, but I think it's now got us focused because the players know it's game week,” coach Bowden said. “It may be a nine-day week, but it's game week for us.”
Special teams: If the punt suddenly becomes the most exciting play in a game for the Zips, it looks as if they’ll have the guy with the potential to do the job. Redshirt freshman Zach Paul booted them as far as 65 yards during practice Monday. Of course that was without a group of slobbering guys hunkering down on him, but it’s definitely something noticeable.