Knights end spring camp on field for Black vs. Gold Spring Game Saturday
Published: Thursday, April 12, 2012
Updated: Thursday, April 12, 2012 16:04
The 2011 season ended a bit earlier than anyone expected for the UCF Knights.
That abrupt ending has left the program and its fans clamoring for the 2012 season and a chance at redemption.
On Saturday, everybody gets a taste. The 2012 UCF Spring Game will offer everyone an opportunity to see where the program stands coming off of a disappointing season.
Throughout spring camp, the players have been entrenched in position battles and trying to fill positions vacated by graduating seniors.
Heading into Saturday’s game, here are the five most notable storylines surrounding the team.
Blake Bortles in the redzone
If the Knights hope to have any improvement over last years 5-7 record, sophomore Bortles has to produce under center. Throughout the spring, Bortles has proven capable at times, but he has also been inconsistent.
“You’re graded every day, not once a week, and that is what he needs to understand,” head coach George O’Leary said.
One area requiring demanding improvement for the sophomore is decision making in the redzone.
“You get down there and obviously the redzone you got to make quick decisions down there,” O’Leary said. “That is something that he doesn’t have a lot of experience with that’s why we spend a lot of time down here, because there is only a small window to throw the ball and you got to get rid of it. You can’t hold the ball down there.”
Cam Henderson or Toby Jackson?
Perhaps the most contested position battle this spring has come at the weak-side defensive end position. Henderson and Jackson have been entrenched in an intense on-field battle for the starting spot opposite Troy Davis. Early on in spring, Henderson jumped out to a lead and looked to be locked in at the position, but not so fast.
“He has leveled off a little bit in my opinion in the last week and a half,” O’Leary said. “His consistency has to be every day, not [just] on Saturdays.”
It’s looking more and more like the two will platoon the position unless either of them has a big spring game.
Caught in a Storm?
The most impressive player this spring has been running back Storm Johnson.
Johnson brings pure speed and explosiveness to the table. Every time he touches the ball, he is a threat to score. The Miami-transfer looks to be entrenched in the Knights’ running back rotation along with Latavius Murray and Brynn Harvey.
Youth on offense
The Knights have youth all over the first-team offense.
Bortles, Johnson, Josh Reese and suspended wide receiver J.J. Worton are redshirt sophomores. Rannell Hall is a true sophomore, and spring standout Breshad Perriman is a true freshman.
Perriman grey-shirted last semester and entered camp as a Knight for the first time this spring. The 6-foot-2-inch freshman has impressed coaches enough to possibly be a starting wide receiver. Center Jordan Rae, guard Theo Goins and Murray are the only seniors slated to start this season.
Plugging holes on defense
Coming into camp, the Knights had a few holes that needed to be filled.
Ray Shipman has worked his way into a starting spot as an outside linebacker. Terrance Plummer has also stepped into the middle linebacker spot. Plummer got some playing time as a freshman in the middle, but now is hoping the game will slow down for him as a sophomore.
“When I look at my playing time last year, I am thankful that I got to play,” Plummer said. “But I know if I want to be the player that I want to be I have to step up in a lot of parts of my game.”
With Josh Robinson NFL bound, the UCF had to find a new corner to pair with senior A.J. Bouye. So far in spring, sophomore Brandon Alexander has slid into that role.
“He’s been having a good spring; he hustles,” Bouye said. “I like him a lot because he is a hard worker, and I know he is going to help us out in the secondary.”