Bulls' line shifts again with Popek's ankle injury
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- USF's offensive line has already used four different starting lineups this season, and it looks like the Bulls might have to juggle again, as senior left guard Mark Popek, the most experienced veteran on the line, left Saturday's game in the second quarter with an injury to his left ankle.
Popek, a Plant City graduate with 28 career starts, was carted off the field and watched the end of the game with his foot in a boot; redshirt freshman Brynjar Gudmundsson stepped in for his first significant college playing time and helped the line play much better in the second half as the Bulls scored three touchdowns.
"The first half, I did not feel like our offensive line played with the same intensity as the rest of this football team," coach Skip Holtz said. "I certainly felt like they came out in the second half and played inspired football. You've got to play for 60 minutes."
The severity of Popek's injury is unknown, but Gudmundsson helped the line block for three running backs who combined for 197 yards on 32 carries; the Bulls did give up four sacks for a loss of 32 yards.
WELCOME ABOARD: True freshman Sean Price not only had the first catch of his young career, but he also came through as USF worked to rally from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter. Facing a fourth-and-8 at the Louisville 44, Price caught a 17-yard pass from B.J. Daniels, and then two plays later, Price caught his first career touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Daniels.
"We've developed that in practice -- when my number's called, he sees me, he throws it, I want to make him look good," Price said.
RUNNING STRONG: Senior Lindsey Lamar continued his strong play, rushing for a career-best 110 yards on 15 carries, the first game over 100 rushing yards by a USF player this season.
PIVOTAL FLAG: Holtz took exception to the personal-foul call against cornerback Kayvon Webster for what officials said was a late hit, moving Louisville from the USF 22 to the 11 on the play before the Cards' go-ahead touchdown.
"I certainly thought (it) was an awfully close call to call in a couple-point football game going down the stretch," Holtz said. "Somebody's foot in bounds, happened right in front of me. It was right on the line. Kayvon Webster put a hand on him. Whether he was out of bounds, y'all have the ability to see instant replay. I didn't have the ability to see that. What I saw in front of me, I certainly didn't think it was some vicious hit that merited a penalty."
THIS AND THAT: Sophomore linebacker Reshard Cliett, making his second career start, played well, finishing with nine total tackles, one shy of senior Sam Barrington's team lead. ... Louisville is the first opponent USF has played 10 times, and the series is now tied at five wins each. USF will play a 10th game later this season against Connecticut, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh as well. ... USF switched up its kickoff return specialists, with Terrence Mitchell and Marcus Shaw lining up deep. The two combined for four returns for 74 yards, averaging 18.5 per return. ... USF's defensive line again struggled to get pressure in the opposing backfield, getting zero sacks and totaling just two tackles for loss for 3 yards as a defense. ... The Bulls continue to be the only team in I-A football without an interception, though they did recover a fumble for their first defensive takeaway in five games. ... Senior walk-on David Aristil, a first-year football player who earned All-America honors as a hurdler with the Bulls' track team, had his first career tackle on kickoff coverage.