UCF Knights running back Latavius Murray (28) is tackled by UTEP Miners linebacker A.J. Ropati (11) and defensive back (22) during the first half at Sun Bowl stadium. (Ivan Pierre Aguirre-US PRESSWIRE / November 10, 2012)
Before breaking off his game-winning 46-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter, running back Latavius Murray had managed just 65 yards rushing on 20 carries – a 3.25 yards per carry average. Considering how successful the redshirt senior had been coming in, he was averaging 168 yards per game in the last three weeks, that is worrisome. Add in that UTEP had been allowing nearly 200 rushing yards per game, and those struggles are even more exasperating.
“They definitely defended the run,” Murray said. “They just was there flowing fast, flowing hard, and just made it really difficult to run the ball.”
UCF also had trouble protecting quarterback Blake Bortles. The redshirt sophomore was constantly harassed, often forced to roll out of the pocket or take off running.
Bortles was sacked three times and hurried three other times, according to the official stats, but the pressure felt more constant. Bortles ability to make plays with his legs bailed UCF out on a number of occasions, most notably on an 18-yard scramble on third-and-19 at the end of the first half that was part of a touchdown drive.
“They came out and gave us their best shot,” redshirt senior center Jordan Rae said. “I wouldn’t ask for anything less. I’m glad they did that, and it exposed what we need to improve on and that’s good for us going into next week.”