John Denton's Knights Insider: Offense Dazzles During Scrimmage

Aug. 20, 2011

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By John Denton

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - A week after UCF's defense proved itself to be a step ahead of the Knights' offense in the first scrimmage of training camp, quarterback Jeff Godfrey, wide receivers Quincy McDuffie and A.J. Guyton and a steadily improving offensive line evened the score on Saturday.

Much to the delight of a crowd of approximately 800 fans lining the practice fields, Godfrey made several big throws down the field and tailbacks Brynn Harvey and Ronnie Weaver found running room in an offense that consistently moved the ball.

It was a welcomed sight after the offense was sloppy and error-prone a week ago while still undergoing the installation phase. That performance motivated the offense to come out with a much better showing on Saturday, and that proved to be just the case.

``All this week the main focus was the offense being more consistent and stop being up one day and down the next day,'' said Guyton, who had catches of 20 and 12 yards off scramble plays by Godfrey. ``Throughout the year, that's the mindset we have to have being consistent every day.''

Added tight end Adam Nissley: ``We came out today with the attitude that we had to get the job done, move the ball and show these fans out here that we're going to have a good offense this season.''

Godfrey, Conference USA's Freshman of the Year last season, stole the show with several dazzling throws. The sophomore has worked hard this camp on being more poised in the pocket and not running at the first sight of pressure. He stayed with plays longer on Saturday, and as a result, he repeatedly found open receivers down the field for big plays. Godfrey had a 12-yard touchdown strike to redshirt freshman Josh Reese early in the scrimmage and hit the speedy McDuffie on deep cross-ins three different times.

``I thought Jeff maneuvered the team well as far as making some plays,'' UCF head coach George O'Leary said. ``I thought he hung in the pocket and showed poise. I think the big thing with him is hanging in there and making the plays that are there. I was pleased with the offense and through they scrimmaged very well today.''

Redshirt freshman quarterback Blake Bortles was nearly as impressive as Godfrey, hitting on several long throws and adeptly beating blitzes with hot-read throws. The 6-foot-5 quarterback from nearby Oviedo has developed a nice chemistry in camp with freshman J.J. Worton and the two connected for receptions of 14, 31 and 20 yards.

And midway through the scrimmage, Bortles executed a waggle play perfectly and found Khymest Williams all alone for a 20-yard touchdown. Bortles' progress is especially important after the Knights lost senior Rob Calabrese for the season earlier in the week with a second knee injury.

Weaver, a part-time starter last season and UCF's hardest runner, continued to take snaps with the first-string offense and was impressive. And junior Brynn Harvey, who missed all of last season with a torn knee ligament, had two particularly impressive carries that were the runs of the day.

With his knee sound and his speed returning, Harvey ran for 11 yards around right end and got the best of a nasty collision with UCF safety Kemal Ishmael, who was in full-contact drills for the first time since having offseason shoulder surgery. Later, Harvey spun out of a Cam Henderson tackle and ran nine yards to get the ball to the goal line.

``It was a mental thing that I had to get over at first and having the support of my teammates made it much easier,'' Harvey said. ``(Offensive coordinator Charlie) Taaffe says I'm 100 percent and I feel 100 percent. So I feel like I'm ready.''

Latavius Murray, the MVP of the C-USA title game and the Liberty Bowl last fall, converted a fourth-and-goal play by beating linebacker Jonathan Davis to the corner for a touchdown.

O'Leary said Weaver has the edge on the starting running back job for now because of his tough running and the consistency of his effort.

``Weaver has stood out the most as far as getting the tough yardage and the hidden yards,'' O'Leary said. ``I've been really pleased with him.''

Troy Davis, a potential star this season at defensive end to replace Bruce Miller, had three tackles for loss and was one of the defensive standouts on Saturday. Highly touted freshman Leilon Willingham continued to take snaps with the first string and looks to be in position to start the season-opener against Charleston Southern on Sept. 3. Davis, who has been in and out of favor during training camp, has worked his way back up to the first group and continues to impress by consistently being around the ball.

The kicking job remains wide open after an up and down day from incumbent starter Nick Cattoi and promising freshman Shawn Moffitt. Cattoi missed from 43 yards, but later made a 47-yarder. Moffitt confidently drilled a 49-yarder early in the day, but pushed a 47-yarder to the right at the end of practice. Jamie Boyle, who is also fighting for the job, hit a 47-yard kick.

O'Leary said he likes where the team stands after 17 consecutive days and 18 practices of camp work. School starts for the Knights on Monday, and the team will continue to drill through Wednesday on fundamentals. O'Leary said that UCF will start the preparations for the home-opener against Charleston Southern on Thursday.

``They executed pretty well today and we just have to keep getting better and hope that the young kids understand what we're doing,'' O'Leary said.

John Denton's Knights Insider appears on UCFAthletics.com several times a week. E-mail John at jdenton@athletics.ucf.edu.