Boyle's Field Goal Caps Off Exciting Saturday Practice

March 17, 2012

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By John Denton, Knights Insider

ORLANDO, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - In a scene that looked more like it was out of October than March, UCF's players whooped and hollered and lifted kicker Jamie Boyle on top of their shoulders after he had just booted a 47-year field goal.

That kick proved to be a clutch one because it kept the Knights from having to run wind sprints and it ended UCF's first practice of spring drills donning full pads. Fittingly, it was a positive end to a two-hour session that head coach George O'Leary was delighted with because of crispness and efficiency of the workout.

``I thought there was some good effort out there. There's some work to get done, but I'm pleased with the effort and enthusiasm,'' said O'Leary, who celebrated St. Patrick's Day by wearing a green UCF hat. ``The kids have taken to the scheme and now they have to perfect the techniques within the schemes. Any time you can come out and segment scrimmaging and get some work done it's great. We got to play a lot of guys today with a lot of reps, so we've got some great tape to see.''

Boyle's dramatic end to practice was just one of the big plays from the third of 15 spring practices. Sophomore quarterback Blake Bortles hit J.J. Worton for a 30-yard touchdown strike down the middle of the field, tailback Latavius Murray was more of a threat in the passing game and defensive linemen Victor Gray and Troy Davis had big stops for losses during full-contact drills.

All eyes are on Bortles this spring because of his importance in UCF's offense. The Oviedo native blossomed dramatically last season and showed signs of being a deep-threat playmaker for the Knights. O'Leary demands that his quarterbacks command a presence in the huddle in addition to making the right plays and he said so far he couldn't be happier with the 6-foot-5 quarterback.

``He's taking leadership out there and that's the big thing. I'm looking for leadership and he's providing it,'' O'Leary said of Bortles. ``There are some errant throws, but he's reading the right coverage. He's throwing the direction and the timing will get better. And the receivers have done a good job making some catches for him.''

Also of major interest to O'Leary is the adjustment the Knights are making to a new coaching staff on the defensive side of the ball. Jim Fleming is the new defensive coordinator, while Tyson Summers is the new linebackers coach and Kirk Callahan is working with the secondary after coming from the University of Florida. New defensive line coach Blaise Winter is one of the more fiery coaches in practice and the several players have already taken a liking to his emotional style.

``I'm loving it right now with the new coaches. They are all hands on,'' said UCF senior cornerback A.J. Bouye, who is attempting to return from a torn ACL in his left knee. ``Coach Callahan has been on us in the secondary, trying to get our techniques right. I'll go (after practice) and watch film with him and I'm looking forward to it because coach Callahan knows what he's talking about. And I really like coach Fleming because he's so active out there and he gets us hyped up. We're all running to the ball and I really like the coaches.''

O'Leary echoed those statements, saying he's liked how the transition has gone between the players and the new staff this spring. Most of all, O'Leary is looking at the chemistry between the coaches and the players, knowing that's the kind of situation that will promote the best environment for learning.

``I've been happy with the way the coaching has gone because they are picking up the mistakes and correcting the kids. And they are doing it the right way and the kids have responded very well to them,'' O'Leary said. ``I like the mannerisms out there and you can see the chemistry between the players and the coaches.''

The Knights will return to the practice field on Tuesday. The spring session will culminate with the UCF Spring Game at Bright House Networks Stadium on April 14 at 2 p.m.

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