Season Report Card: UCF
It really was an impeccable Cinderella-like run for UCF, whose catalyst for success started and ended with senior quarterback—and potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft—Blake Bortles under center.
It’s time to go through the Knights’ final report card:
The word balanced comes to mind when I think of the UCF offense. The combination of Bortles and running back Storm Johnson in the backfield was deadly, as the two accounted for 48 of the team’s 56 offensive touchdowns. It wasn’t all smooth-sailing, as the Knights struggled to put up points against Houston, South Florida and SMU, but almost always found ways to put the right amount up on the scoreboard.
UCF’s biggest strength was obviously circulated through Bortles, but the defense was an underrated unit on a week-by-week basis. It was a fundamentally sound, young and athletic group of guys that worked hard and never got the respect it deserved, ranking 29th in total defense and 17th in points allowed (21.3). There were plenty of breakdowns—something you’d expect with only two seniors in the starting lineup—but it made plays when it needed to and was a huge contributor to the 12 wins.
Special Teams: A-
Shawn Moffit gave UCF one of the best kicking games in the country, hitting 21-of-23 field goal attempts on the year. The special teams were above average as a whole, simply getting the job done.
Coach George O’Leary has quietly reshaped the culture within the UCF football walls. He started by going winless in his first year (2004) and has produced three 10-plus win seasons in the last four years. The Knights were 5-1 against teams with winning records, beating Penn State on the road, losing to a very good South Carolina team by three, and obviously making a statement in the program’s first (and last) BCS bowl game.
Central Florida was a 17.5-point underdog heading into the Fiesta Bowl with Big 12 champion Baylor and not once did it trail, taking leads of 14 and 17 throughout the game. The Knights’ performance in their final exam was the icing on the fantastic-season (and ice cream filled) cake.
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