Select Baylor players and coaches share their thoughts on UCF quarterback Blake Bortles, who will lead the Knights against the Bears Wednesday in the Fiesta Bowl.
Baylor held its defensive press conference on Saturday morning, and Bears defensive coordinator Phil Bennett had plenty of praise for the Knights offense.
A good friend of UCF offensive coordinator Charlie Taaffe and head coach George O'Leary, Bennett said he remembered rooting for the Knights to beat Louisville earlier this season.
"I don't know about that now," he added, with a smile.
Watch: Baylor QB Bryce Petty talks Blake Bortles, NFL Draft
Bennett was asked often about Knights quarterback Blake Bortles, and Bennett said the junior will present a unique challenge in the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1.
"He's a guy that makes plays," Bennett said. "It's obvious that, like most good quarterbacks or great quarterbacks, he makes everybody around him better. He makes the running game better, the linemen better, the receivers better. They've got a very unique group of receivers in the fact they play a lot of them. They all catch the ball well. Their running backs, two running backs that play, that I think are probably NFL running backs.
"As I told Charlie Taaffe, who is a friend of mine, he's done a great job coaching them. They are a team that will challenge you in both the run and the pass. They've been pretty impressive."
Baylor will look to try to limit Bortles' ability to extend plays and get outside of the pocket. It's an area in which Bortles has thrived in his career at UCF. During the interview session, several players said there was a focus on pressuring Bortles and not allowing him to get outside of the pocket.
"That's what great quarterbacks do, they take bad plays to good plays and good plays to great plays," Bennett said. "You can't let a guy like this extend the play. That's what he does so well. You go back to their game against Temple right at the end. It was a great catch. They made a great catch. But, man, he kept the play alive and made it happen. You've got to try to contain him. He's got running ability also. That's where it starts."
Bennett said the goal is to make UCF one-dimensional and to get the Knights in third-and-long situations. He noted that the Knights had just 38 situations of third-and-7 or longer all season, "which is phenomenal," Bennett said.
"That means they're staying on schedule, they're getting a lot of third¿and¿shorts, and they're not putting themselves behind the chains," he said. "It's very important for us to have success to make that happen."