UCF held its first practice Wednesday, marking the beginning of the 2013 season and the American Athletic Conference era.
Head coach George O’Leary and redshirt junior quarterback Blake Bortles spoke with the media following practice:
George O’Leary -
About being ready for football season to begin:
“The first day is always intriguing, as far as the players that retained the knowledge from the spring – it’s obvious we have a bunch of them.”
On having to hold practice indoors due to inclement weather in the area:
“It was a good day. The weather screwed me up. I heard it was going to rain, and thunderstorm and lightning. I’m usually right, I was going to go on the field, I should’ve done it, but I went to go out, and it was pouring rain in Oviedo.”
About freshman handling the first day of practice:
“They’re anxious. They don’t know what to expect. The thing that usually gets them is the speed of the game. Everything is so much quicker.”
On Blake Bortles becoming the leader of the team:
“He’s not a loud guy, but there’s no question he has the respect of the team in the huddle, and that’s what I look at — fieldmanship.”
On Blake Bortles’ on-field chemistry with his wide receivers:
“Everybody is back form last year’s team, except one person who touched the ball, on offense. Latavius Murray. Everybody else who had some production is back. We’ve got to use the wide receivers, there’s no question. I would say, for the years I’ve been here, we’ve always been a pretty decent run football team. I think this combination of run and pass is the best we’ve had since I’ve been here. But we have a lot of learning to do, and growing up to do in those areas, but we have the opportunity to be a very solid offense.”
Blake Bortles -
On first day of practice:
“It was great to get out there the first day. Getting back to what we all love to do, and just enjoying everything and having fun. Just getting the basics in today, and trying to progress throughout the preseason.”
On the wide receiver group:
“Last year was our first year as a unit together, so this summer was huge for us. We went out there pretty everyday throwing routes. We got a lot better in the summer and look to improve this season.”
On what he’s learned since his freshman year:
“[I’ve learned] a ton. Just being able to experience everything, coming in as an 18-year-old freshman having older guys be able to teach me stuff, and learn from them. And just spending time with the coaches in the film room. It’s been a tremendous amount of learning for me, and I still have way more to learn, so I look forward to that.”
After Thursday’s practice the players will take their individual and team photos, followed by the annual media day. Players and coaches will be available for interviews where they’ll be discussing the 2013 season, the new American Athletic Conference, Ireland and more.
Check back Thursday night for a media day wrap up.