Murray, Johnson mesh well in backfield
Published: Sunday, April 15, 2012
Updated: Sunday, April 15, 2012 17:04
Knights running backs Latavius Murray and Miami-transfer Storm Johnson seem to have a good working relationship.
The two get along and say they hope the competition among themselves and Brynn Harvey will make the entire backfield better.
UCF fans may have reason to be excited.
“Me and ‘Tay [Murray] like pushing each other,” Johnson said. “We push each other in practice, we push each other off the field and on the field [and] in the weight room.”
Where other elements of the offense looked shaky at times during UCF’s Spring Game on Saturday, the Knights’ backfield looked promising.
The first-team offense rotated carries between Murray and Johnson, with Harvey heading the second-team attack. Murray and Johnson combined for 100 yards, and Johnson scored in the first quarter from two yards out. Harvey added 10 carries for 30 yards on the second team.
Heading into fall it looks like Murray and Johnson will be getting the bulk of the carries to come together as a potentially dangerous combination.
For quarterback Blake Bortles, Saturday’s Spring Game was a different kind of experience.
The redshirt sophomore entered UCF’s Spring Game not as a talented backup to former Knight Jeff Godfrey, but as UCF’s starter.
In what was essentially his debut as “the guy,” Bortles finished the day by completing 27-of-45 passes for 239 yards, including a 10-yard strike to senior Quincy McDuffie for his only touchdown.
Bortles’ stats are deceiving, though, as dropped balls by receivers became a theme for the day.
“I think really the problem today and the whole day was dropped passes,” head coach George O’Leary said. “We had 12 dropped balls there. Those are stopping first downs.”
The first-team offense spent a majority of the game opposing the second-team defense.
In their brief stints against their first-team counterparts, the offense mostly struggled but was able to put a scoring drive together late in the first half, resulting in the McDuffie touchdown reception.
Things got interesting, though, as the day went on.
Bortles and the first-team offense spent portions of the game, and most of the second half, in a hurry-up, no-huddle offense. Bortles looked more decisive in these situations, much to the pleasure of his head coach.
“I really wanted to put Blake under some heat because I think it’s going to happen pretty quick in the early part of the season,” O’Leary said.
Despite the high number of drops on Saturday, the Knights’ top three receivers were productive.
Josh Reese led the unit with nine receptions for 64 yards. Reese did, however, drop two key passes that would have resulted in big gains, one of which was in the end zone.
McDuffie started and had five catches for 62 yards and a touchdown.
Breshad Perriman, the freshman standout who has made some noise this spring by impressing UCF’s coaching staff, played well on Saturady, showing good chemistry with Bortles.
Perriman finished with four catches for 64 yards but left some yards on the field, as O’Leary sees it.
“Perriman is still not confident in a lot of things as far as turning up field after catching it,” O’Leary said. “All of those guys [receivers] have to learn to catch it and go. They catch it and are expecting a hit. They have to turn the field north-and-south and make some YAC [yards after catch] out of the play.”