Knights must start Bortles next season, not Godfrey
Published: Saturday, November 26, 2011
Updated: Sunday, November 27, 2011 15:11
As a season with high expectations came to a deflating end for UCF football, the Knights are faced with a dilemma as they shift gears toward recruiting and preparing for next season: What should they do at the quarterback position?
UCF has two very talented signal-callers: Jeff Godfrey, a star player last season who has had an up-and-down performance this year; and Blake Bortles, the Oviedo High School grad who gives the Knights life every time he takes a snap.
Godfrey, a freshman All-American last season, led the Knights to their first-ever bowl victory last year. He displays elite athleticism and is quick and agile. He runs the option offense like a field general and plays with a competitive mean streak.
The problem with Godfrey? Defenses are starting to figure him out. He's also tiny, generously listed at 5-foot-11, 182 pounds.
In the second half of the season, Godfrey has only scored one rushing touchdown. In the first half of the season, he rushed for eight touchdowns in four games. UCF has started to veer away from the option, and it's easy to see that Godfrey is having a difficult time adjusting to running a pro-style offense because he has a hard time seeing down the field.
Bortles has patiently waited for his turn. Now, it's time to give him the starting nod.
Every time the Knights are down and Bortles is subbed in for Godfrey, the Oviedo native gives his hometown team a spark. Bortles has seen significant time in eight games this season, completing 68.2 percent of his 110 attempts for 958 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions. While not as big of a threat on the run as Godfrey, Bortles has displayed good enough athleticism to make plays with his feet and scramble away from a pass-rush. More importantly, he can run a pro-style offense and can see down the field.
UCF could also market the "hometown hero" aspect to fans. Who wouldn't want to see billboards in downtown Oviedo with Bortles on it, promoting Knights football season tickets? It's genius marketing idea for UCF, which can't sell out its stadium unless the Texas Longhorns come to town.
I'm not saying to bench Godfrey. Keep him on the field. Bortles is too good not to start at quarterback, but Godfrey is too good not to play. There's a solution: Start Bortles at quarterback and use Godfrey in other ways. Confuse defenses.
The Knights can use Godfrey as a wide receiver, kick returner, option quarterback or whatever else they want to use him as in "Wild Knight" packages. Godfrey is such an elite athlete and does amazing things when the ball is in his hands. He's just not what UCF needs at quarterback right now. He's not the freshman phenom he was last year, and it's more than just a sophomore slump.
The Knights' season is over. It's time to figure out what went wrong this year and make some changes on offense, along with defense and special teams. Why not try out Bortles as the starter and Godfrey at wide receiver?
The Knights were in a similar predicament last season with then-starter Rob Calabrese and Godfrey, who was a backup in the beginning of the season. Calabrese shifted to wide receiver, taking occasional snaps at quarterback while Godfrey took over as the starter.
It sounds nice and it sounds like it would work, but there is a dilemma with using Godfrey as an athlete and starting Bortles at quarterback.
Godfrey was a highly sought-after recruit out of Miami Central High School, holding offers from football super-powers like Florida State, Georgia, Miami, Michigan and Tennessee. Godfrey chose the Knights over those schools because UCF was the only school to offer him as a quarterback.
When the best of the rest offered Godfrey as an athlete, the Knights were the only school that gave him a chance as a signal caller.
What will happen if UCF pulls him from under center and tries to use him in other ways?
Hopefully, Godfrey learned a thing or two from Calabrese. It's time for him to pass the torch to Bortles and contribute to the team in other ways.