Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Expectations Are Higher' for Knights; Far from Grieving over Loss of Bortles, Johnson, UCF Enthused

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

'Expectations Are Higher' for Knights; Far from Grieving over Loss of Bortles, Johnson, UCF Enthused

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

ORLANDO | Although Central Florida lost quarterback Blake Bortles and running back Storm Johnson to the Jaguars in the NFL Draft, as well as two starting offensive linemen, there remains a curious sense of optimism.

Three of the four quarterbacks on the roster have never taken a snap in a college game, including Pete DiNovo, a redshirt freshman, will start the season opener vs. Penn State. A fourth only did some minimal mop-up work behind Bortles a year ago.

And yet, the goal is even bigger than last year's stunning 52-42 victory over Baylor in last year's Fiesta Bowl. The Knights' lone loss year was by a field goal to South Carolina.

"Our expectations are higher," said senior wide receiver J.J. Worton. "Nobody is paying attention to us outside our program. We did it last year; we can do it again."

How much love have the Knights not gotten in the preseason? After rolling through the American Athletic Conference a year ago without a loss and with nine starters back on defense, UCF was picked to finish second in the league behind Cincinnati.

And after finishing 10th in the final polls a year ago, they were left out of the top 25 preseason rankings.

"We've got to shock the world," said sophomore running back William Stanback, who seems to be Johnson's replacement. "We need to pick up where we left off. The quarterback, running back and the offensive line, we're all young. We have to make everything the best we can.

"But our goals are the [BCS] tournament and the conference championship. That's our goal every year."

Bortles and Johnson clearly create a huge void for the Knights. But so does the loss of all-conference offensive linemen Jordan McCray and Justin McCray and second-team lineman Chris Martin.

The foundation for any possible success will come from the defense. Led by all-conference and Fiesta Bowl Defensive MVP Terrance Plummer of Orange Park and all-conference cornerback Jacoby Glenn, UCF should be to replicate, if not improve, on a defense that gave up just 21. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.