NCF Nation: Breshad Perriman

UCF team preview

August, 13, 2013
Today we're looking at the University of Central Florida as the Knights look to improve on their bowl win last season.

Coach: George O’Leary (112-88 career, 60-55 at UCF)

2012 record: 10-4

Key losses: RB Latavius Murray, DB Kemal Ishmael

[+] EnlargeJamie Collings, Blake Bortles
Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Blake Bortles leads an experienced offense in The American Athletic Conference's inaugural season.
Key returnees: QB Blake Bortles, S Clayton Geathers, LB Terrance Plummer

Newcomer to watch: WR Breshad Perriman

Biggest games in 2013: at Penn State (Sept. 14), South Carolina (Sept. 28)

Biggest question mark heading into 2013: The Knights have one of the strongest nonconference slates in the American Athletic, playing Penn State and South Carolina in September. Needing to replace seven of their top 10 tacklers from last season, a challenging schedule early in the season could be too much for Central Florida by the time it gets to its conference opponents. The Knights will lean on Geathers, Plummer and cornerback Brandon Alexander on a young defense that led Conference USA in scoring defense and pass defense last year.

Forecast: In its first year in the American Athletic, Central Florida will have the benefit of an experienced offense. Bortles was named to the preseason watch list for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the nation’s most outstanding player. Passing for 3,059 yards and 25 touchdowns last season, Bortles will have his two top receivers from last year in J.J. Worton and Rannell Hall. Though last year’s leading-rusher Latavius Murray is with the Oakland Raiders now, junior Storm Johnson had 507 rushing yards and four touchdowns last season, expect to step into the No. 1 running back role this year.

Winning its appeal of the NCAA’s one-year postseason ban, UCF will be eligible for the postseason in its inaugural American Athletic season. The Knights were originally issued the ban as part of sanctions levied last July for recruiting violations in football and basketball. “I was very happy that we got the ban rescinded,” O’Leary said. “I always laugh with Coach O'Brien at Penn State; I blamed him, because our case came up right after the Penn State case. I still think the NCAA had their guns blazing at that time.”

The Knights’ difficult nonconference slate will be telling for when UCF plays AAC-favorite Louisville on the road. Picked to finish fourth in the American Athletic in the preseason media poll, the Knights have the benefit of playing South Carolina, Rutgers, UConn and South Florida at home. O’Leary hopes UCF’s nonconference schedule will help to bolster the new league’s profile.

“I think the key thing with this conference is not the conference playing themselves but the nonconference games,” O’Leary said. “You've got to get your share of wins there if you're going to take notice. That's how I look at it.”

Instant analysis: UCF 38, Ball State 17

December, 21, 2012

UCF made the short trip over to the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl and turned it into a long night for Ball State. The Knights scored an impressive 38-17 victory at Tropicana Field, shutting down a Cardinals offense that averaged 35 points per game this season. Here's a quick look at how it went down:

It was over when: After Ball State kicked a field goal to make the score 28-10, the Cardinals attempted an onside kick. It didn't work, and UCF needed just seven plays to turn that good field position into a touchdown. Blake Bortles found J.J. Worton for a 7-yard touchdown pass and a 35-10 lead. You couldn't blame Ball State coach Pete Lembo for gambling, because his defense had no answers all night long for the Knights, who led 28-7 at halftime and controlled both sides of the ball.

Game ball goes to: Bortles. The sophomore quarterback bounced back from a rough day in the Conference USA title game loss to Tulsa for a terrific all-around performance. He completed 22-of-32 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and he also ran for 79 yards and a score. Bortles did a great job of extending plays with his feet, especially in the red zone, and he didn't turn the ball over. Running back Latavius Murray caught two of Bortles' touchdown passes and ran for another.

Stat of the game: 68. That's how many rushing yards Ball State had in the game. The Cardinals averaged 214 rushing yards per game this season but couldn't find much room against UCF's defense and had to play from behind all night. Bortles outrushed Ball State all by himself.

Unsung hero of the game: UCF freshman receiver Breshad Perriman had five catches for 90 yards, helping set up two first-half scores. Perriman had only 298 receiving yards in the regular season.

What it means: UCF won its second bowl game and first since downing Georgia in the 2010 Liberty Bowl. The Knights seniors became the winningest class in school history with their 34th victory. A 10-win season should set the program up well for its entry next season into the Big East, however that league may end up looking. ... A strong season by Ball State ended with familiar disappointment. The program is now 0-6 all time in bowls.