Pro prospect quarterback Blake Bortles picks apart Lions' defense - The Daily Collegian: Football

Logout|My Dashboard

Pro prospect quarterback Blake Bortles picks apart Lions' defense

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Saturday, September 14, 2013 11:56 pm

Blake Bortles stepped back in the pocket as the clock dwindled and did the one thing he and his Central Florida squad refused to do all day — roll over.

The UCF quarterback took himself to the ground once the clock struck zero to take a knee and finalize the visiting team’s 34-31 victory over Penn State. Bortles orchestrated a fast-paced Knight offense to the upset with 288 passing yards and three passing touchdowns, often fitting long passes into tight windows to deflate the Nittany Lions’ defense.

The junior, who Penn State coach Bill O’Brien referred to as a pro prospect earlier this week, picked apart the Lions’ secondary from the start, leading the Knights’ 13-play, 89-yard drive with ease to begin the game.

Lions’ defensive coordinator John Butler said Bortles did a great job of neutralizing the Lions’ pass rush — which amassed zero sacks — by not giving the defensive line much time to finish their rushing patterns.

“Quick decision making,” Butler said of Bortles’ best trait. “He was making his decision about where he wanted to throw the ball quickly. He threw it, and the receivers made plays.”

The junior quarterback also found ways to hurt the Lions with the deep ball, targeting an inexperienced secondary group that often came up short in coverage.

With the Knights leading 21-10 in the middle of the third quarter, Bortles felt the pressure on 2nd-and-10 and lofted a high-arching pass right into Josh Reese’s outstretched arms for the touchdown to give the Knights an 18-point lead.

This was one of many instances when Bortles bought time in the pocket before fitting a deep pass into a small area, which is exactly what O'Brien said makes defending him such a difficult task.

“Any time you have a quarterback like that with a strong arm, who’s big and can stand in the pocket and can run, it’s a very difficult challenge,” O’Brien said. “He played a great game tonight. Credit to him. I think he’s a heck of a player.”

Even when Penn State clawed back into the game late in the second half, bringing bursts of energy back into the Beaver Stadium crowd, Bortles answered.

The Lions appeared to have rejuvenated the crowd after a 4-play, 75-yard drive brought them right back within 11 points. But, the Knights’ quarterback tossed two more passes to Reese, the second for 44 yards, to ensure they’d at least get points back on the board.

Bortles ultimately came within inches of scoring on a third-down scramble, and although the Knights ended up settling for a field goal, UCF coach George O’Leary said it was these types of third-down decisions that set the Knights apart.

“I thought there were a couple of key plays I thought that Bortles made downfield on some key third-downs that were real critical. I thought that was the difference in the game.”

Butler said Bortles’ dominant performance brought to light several issues in the Lions’ pass coverage, which he expects his young defense to improve upon.

However, the defensive coordinator said the performance also cemented their initial thought that the quarterback was a legitimate pro prospect.

And for Bortles, who tossed the football into the air after rolling over to take on the last play, the small conference team’s victory derived from taking what the Lions’ defense gave the Knights.

“It's huge,” Bortles said after the game. “Penn State is such a tradition and program. Just historic, awesome with the things they have done. And for us to come in here and have an opportunity to play them, we just took advantage of it and made the best out of our chances.”

More about

More about

More about

Welcome to the discussion.

Connect with us

Football Columns

My View: Title IX is a scapegoat for college football’s role in decline of NCAA men’s sports
Posted: March 05, 2014

In this article, I argue that Title IX is a scapegoat for the true culprit for the decline in men’s non-revenue sports: the exorbitant spending on football programs by schools which fruitlessly pursue a mirage of revenue.

Comments (0)
In the midst of uncertainty, Penn State needs stability — whether it's Bill O'Brien or his successor
Posted: December 31, 2013

If Penn State brass is out shopping for a new coach in the coming weeks (or days), its representatives need to identify who could also be using this job as a way to boost their personal brand.

Comments (7)
Penn State football: given ‘new normal’ in Happy Valley, 7-5 record even more impressive than 2012 results
Posted: December 02, 2013

There wasn’t a grand reveal to honor Penn State’s season on Senior Day, nor will there be a Maxwell Coach of the Year award waiting for coach Bill O’Brien come winter.

Comments (2)
Purdue coach Darrell Hazell unwise giving Penn State bulletin board material
Posted: November 18, 2013

Hazell thought earlier last week that Penn State’s running game wasn’t on par with Iowa and Wisconsin. Bill O’Brien proved otherwise.

Comments (0)
If Jameis Winston deserves the benefit of the doubt, so does the woman who said she was sexually assaulted
Posted: November 15, 2013

Media, fans and those pesky pundits are responding in a typical way — they’re perpetuating the idea that sexual assault can be the fault of the victim by blindly criticizing a typical 11-month investigation.

Comments (4)
In recruiting ratings, the analysts tab the five-stars, but lower than that? It’s shades of gray
Posted: November 14, 2013

Rating Division I football prospects is a serious business that garners a great deal of national attention. So we had to ask: are these ratings indicative of how a player will perform in college?

Comments (0)
Column: Penn State football once again shows down doesn’t always mean out
Posted: October 13, 2013

A Penn State win appeared hopeless at several points in Saturday’s game against Michigan. But resiliency once again led coach Bill O’Brien’s squad to victory.

Comments (0)
Lions face a gut check in Michigan
Posted: October 11, 2013

The second-year coach said this week it’d be crazy to think Saturday’s all-stadium White Out on ESPN at night is a normal contest.

Comments (0)
Penn State football isn’t perfect, and that’s OK
Updated: October 08, 2013 - 12:00 am

Yes, a Joe Paterno-coached team never lost to Indiana. And no, Penn State didn’t play or coach its best Saturday in a loss to the Hoosiers. But come on, Internet. Settle down.

Comments (0)
Penn State didn’t play horribly Saturday --- it just didn’t play complementary football in a loss to Indiana
Updated: October 08, 2013 - 2:17 pm

While football seems like a game distinctly separated into offense and defense, the two indirectly go hand-in-hand. The units aren’t on the field at the same time, but one affects the other in a major way.

Comments (0)