UNIVERSITY PARK - Central Florida owns two commanding victories in two weeks - a 38-7 beatdown of Akron and a 38-0 shutout of Florida International University - but coach George O'Leary was not all positive in his Monday teleconference previewing this week's game at Penn State.
"I thought last week, we went out, and I thought we made good effort, not really a smart effort," O'Leary said. "I thought we played with good effort both sides of the ball and special teams. I think we got to play smarter in certain situations, offensively and defensively, and again it's a work in progress."
O'Leary went on to say his team has to stress the fundamentals and smart play on the field, which is something the Knights will continue to work on in practice.
While all the focus coming into the game may be on Penn State's true freshman quarterback, Christian Hackenberg, Central Florida's quarterback will be a major obstacle for the Nittany Lions.
A large part of the Knights' 2-0 success belongs to Blake Bortles. The redshirt junior has accumulated 528 yards and four touchdowns in the first two games, with a completion percentage just shy of 70 and no interceptions.
Much like Hackenberg's 45-yard electrifying touchdown throw to Allen Robinson, Bortles' Saturday night was highlighted by a 59-yard toss to Rannell Hall that set up a touchdown in the second quarter.
"We did some good things on offense," Bortles told reporters after the game. "It was a good performance, a good win."
Bortles and Hackenberg both had slow starts in their respective last games, but both picked it up and posted big numbers when all was said and done last Saturday.
O'Leary praised Hackenberg Monday, and said the Virginia native is not playing like a true freshman.
He doesn't make a lot of mistakes. He knows where to deliver the ball," O'Leary said. "He has the arm strength, he has the size, and obviously he must have the knowledge, too, because he has the ability to take a bad play and make a good play out of it. I think they got themselves a whale of a quarterback."
O'Brien joined O'Leary's Georgia Tech staff in 1995 as a graduate assistant and climbed his way through the Yellow Jackets' staff to offensive coordinator in 2001.
Monday, O'Leary said O'Brien had great work habits and he was always looking to get better during their days at Georgia Tech.
"He came in and was a young, enthusiastic guy that couldn't get enough knowledge, worked at the game extremely hard and usually good things happen to guys like that," O'Leary said. "He worked his way up through the ranks and to the point where he's at now, where he's a very successful coach. But he worked hard to get where he was at."