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April 13, 2013
Bortles, offense impressive in spring game
ORLANDO, Fla. - UCF got more of the same from quarterback Blake Bortles in its annual spring football game and that is a good thing.
Bortles, a high-percentage, low-interception quarterback as a sophomore starter last year, was just that Saturday. He completed 18 of 24 passes for 276 yards and two touchdowns in a game that ended 45-6.
"You could see how much better Blake's awareness is than last year," UCF Coach George O'Leary said. "He made some good hot checks when they blitzed him and I thought he had a good day, but so did a lot of guys. We have a chance to be a very solid football team from what I saw out there."
UCF substituted first- and second -team players liberally on both sides of the ball as it prepares for its first season as a member of the newly-named American Athletic Conference.
Bortles and his favorite receivers from last season, J.J. Worton and Jeff Godfrey, were the standouts on the offensive side of the ball. Worton had eight catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns. Godfrey had seven catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.
"It's a machine when we're rolling," said Bortles, who is expected to be a much bigger part of the UCF offense next season. "Things fall into place when the ball goes where it needs to be and guys are there to get it. I thought it really looked good today."
On the defensive side, sophomore linemen Thomas Niles and Deion Green both had strong good days. Niles had nine tackles and three sacks. Deion Green added three sacks and five tackles. Niles probably would have had a few more sacks had the rules not prohibited tackling the quarterbacks.
"I try to put a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks, chase 'em around and have them looking for me," Niles said. "I think we did a pretty good job of that today. We showed we could pass rush, but we need to do a better job stopping the run."
One newcomer who may have opened some eyes was freshman quarterback Justin Holman, who went 4-for-4 for 81 yards a touchdown on his only series in the first half. Overall, Holman was nine of 12 for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Holman, who enrolled early at UCF this spring after his high school career in Snellville, Ga., could create some competition this fall with junior Tyler Gabbert in the competition for backup to Bortles.
"The backup position is not settled in my mind," O'Leary said. "It's always hard to anoint (Holman). He's just a freshman coming out of high school, but there's no question he has a good arm and a great future."