UCF spring wrap

UCF Knights

2012 record: 10-4

2012 conference record: 7-1, C-USA East

Returning starters: Offense: 6; defense: 5; kicker/punter: 1

Top returners

QB Blake Bortles, WR J.J. Worton, S Clayton Geathers, LB Terrance Plummer

Key losses

RB Latavius Murray, WR Quincy McDuffie, S Kemal Ishmael, LB Jonathan Davis

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Murray (1,106 yards, 15 TDs)

Passing: Bortles* (251-of-399 for 3,059 yards, 25 TDs, 7 INTs)

Receiving: Rannell Hall* (631 yards, 4 TDs)

Tackles: Ishmael (124)

Sacks: Troy Davis (8)

Interceptions: Ishmael, A.J. Bouye (3 each)

Spring answers

1. Comfortable at center. The Knights lost a great player in Jordan Rae, a first-team All-Conference USA selection a year ago. But Joey Grant did a nice job this spring taking over the center position. Coach George O’Leary noted after the spring that Grant didn’t have very many blown assignments this spring, a good sign headed into the fall.

2. Linebacker. The Knights lost Jonathan Davis and Ray Shipman, but they do have some players with valuable experience at linebacker to step in, with Willie Mitchell and Troy Gray stepping into the starting lineup to join veteran Terrance Plummer. Plenty of depth here as well.

3. Passing game. UCF spent a good part of spring working on its passing game, with Bortles returning along with a host of playmakers. The work paid off in the spring game, as Bortles threw for 276 yards and two touchdowns, J.J. Worton had eight catches for 163 yards and a score, and Jeff Godfrey had seven catches for 107 yards and a score.

Fall questions

1. Pass-rusher. The Knights lost a terrific pass rusher in Troy Davis. Thomas Niles is penciled in to start, and O’Leary said after the spring ended that he wants to see Niles “take that spot over.” Niles did have three sacks in the spring game, and so did Deion Green.

2. Field corner. Though the Knights got some answers in the secondary, one big question that remains is who starts at field corner. Jacoby Glenn missed the spring but is expected back in the summer and could jump into the starting lineup. There also is competition at one of the safety spots, too, between Nicco Whigham and Drico Johnson.

3. Depth at running back. The Knights went three deep last season with some exceptionally talented backs. Only Storm Johnson returns from that group. Johnson showed improvements this spring but depth behind him has to be developed.