Bortles leads 'UCF' past 'Knights' in Spring Game, 20-17
Published: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 16, 2012 12:04
To understand the way Saturday’s Spring Football game was set up, you need only look for one player on the field: Blake Bortles.
When Bortles was on the field, the offense was “UCF.” When any other quarterback was on the field, the offense was “Knights.”
And so it was that Bortles led UCF to a 20-7 victory over the Knights on an overcast afternoon in the 2012 UCF Spring Game. The sophomore concluded his first spring atop the quarterback depth chart by completing 27-of-45 passes for 239 yards and a touchdown.
The Oviedo-native looked good at times and struggled at others, as a common theme of dropped passes plagued the game.
“I think one of the problems the whole day for him was dropped passes,” O’Leary said. “Those are stopping first downs and everything else. … Way too many dropped balls.”
Where the passing attack of the first-team offense may have come up short, the running game certainly made up some ground to the tune of 105 yards. Fans got their first glimpse of Storm Johnson paired with returning starter Latavius Murray, with each running back showing some flashes of what he could bring to the table in the fall.
“I got some good backs right behind me, so I just got to make sure I play well,” Murray said. “When Storm gets in there, he does some different things that the defense can’t defend.”
Johnson finished the game with 33 yards on six carries and a touchdown while Murray had 67 yards on nine carries.
The first-team defense took the opportunity on Saturday to show what it could do, pouncing all over the second-team offense and holding its own in limited snaps against the first-team offense.
The combination of the defense’s dominance and the second-team offense’s struggles resulted in only 99 total yards for the Knights, well short of UCF’s 344 yards on the day.
O’Leary said afterward that he was pleased with what he saw out on the field, expressing a desire to put pressure on Bortles. The pressure manifested itself in UCF running a variation of a two-minute offense most of the second half.
“We wanted to put Blake under some heat. … I just wanted to see how he took it,” O’Leary said. “We ended the spring the way we wanted to end it. … Each team had about 80 plays; that’s a good day’s work.”
Now, with the spring season behind them, the Knights are eager to return to focusing on individual improvements during the summer. Defensive lineman Victor Gray joked that he wasn’t sure if he was more excited to prepare for the upcoming season this fall or just to be done with spring practice.
“It’s a very tough toss up,” Gray said. “I’m very excited, either way. … I get to work hard and get ready for the season.”
Jokes aside, Gray said this year’s team has come together around a unifying goal: being better after last year’s disappointing 5-7 season.
“We made it a point, from last season, that we’re not going to have a repeat of last season,” Gray said. “We’re not going to be anywhere near that.”