Far too many USF-UCF observations ...
So much to write about. Huge win for USF against Central Florida, though it seems like it happened two days ago now. With No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Cal both losing, USF has had an amazing path cleared for it. When the BCS standings come out Sunday afternoon, you'll see USF either second or third, right in there with Boston College as the top challengers to newly No. 1 Ohio State.
-- New rankings. I think USF is No. 2 in the new AP poll, leapfrogging Boston College. I have West Virginia inching up to No. 7. I have Rutgers re-entering the poll at No. 24, and I think Cincy stays in the top 25 at No. 22 (No. 18 Illinois, No. 19 Wisconsin and No. 21 Florida State all lost, as did the top four teams in Also Receiving Votes).
-- That George Selvie play, where he got into the backfield and tomahawked Kyle Israel's arm as he went to hand off, I think that really set the tone defensively for the rest of the game. Best thing about that play is Jarriett Buie wearing jersey No. 50, because, as he said, UCF was holding him so badly they ripped his jersey. A little mid-game alterations, and No. 90 is sewn up and back on him moments later.
-- My preview story Saturday had a chart, showing how USF's offense had converted 17 turnovers into all of 13 points -- just one touchdown and two field goals off 17 turnovers! Fitting, then, that the Bulls converted three UCF turnovers into 17 points in the first half. The other glaring stat I had going in was that USF only had two pass plays of 30 yards or longer in the first five games. Bulls struck for FIVE of those against UCF. Add up the yardage on USF's eight touchdowns, you get 143 yards. Add up the yardage on all 67 UCF offensive plays, you get 145 yards. Ouch.
-- I think you have to give a game ball to the Orlando Sentinel for the second year in a row. Last year, Mike Bianchi's "renegades" column really motivated the Bulls, and this year, it was seeing columnist David Whitley, decked in UCF gear for a column gimmick, riding the big bull in the athletic facility on the front page of the Sentinel. "That's what you get for riding our bull," long-snapper Eric Setser said after the game. The players can't distinguish between things UCF did and things the Orlando media did; they just want a reason to be motivated. UCF message-board cracks about a close family member of a USF players also hit home for the Bulls, who took that very personally. So fans, be careful what you say about opposing players, and sure as heck be careful what you say about the people closest to them.
When George O'Leary joked this week, asking what league USF was in, I don't think it was meant as not knowing, rather him being tired of hearing that USF is in a BCS league and his team isn't. The Bulls took it as a slight and it came up more than once in the postgame interviews. This, I suppose, is why Jim Leavitt refuses to say anything that could in any way be taken as motivation on the other sideline.
-- Remember how we called out Leavitt for trying to pretend on Tuesday he didn't know USF was playing on a Thursday this week? He 'fessed up after the game that -- shocking -- he'd already laid out his practice plans for this week. "We definitely have a plan in place ... we really plan it two weeks out. Even though I tell you guys the only thing I think about is the next five minutes and the punt team, those things, I do think of other things, sometimes I just don't share that." It's called lying.
-- ESPNU made some silly mistakes. Justin Teachey's lining up for the opening kickoff, and they put up Tyrone McKenzie's bio information. Yes, they both wear No. 27, but c'mon. I did like the "Bull or No Bull" quizzes from USF players. Volleyball standout Kristina Fabris seemed to have a lot of fun with that. All the sports are enjoying football's success -- when Taurus Johnson caught that TD at the end of the half, he got a big hug on the sideline from ... softball coach Ken Eriksen.
-- I think George Selvie will get a second sack once the defensive stats are re-jiggered. Selvie had a sack on UCF's first drive, and his play forcing a fumble from Kyle Israel should be considered a sack: Israel wasn't running and hadn't yet handed the ball off to a running back. If you hit the quarterback hard enough to knock the ball loose and the defense recovers, that's a sack in my book.
-- This is of course the Blog of Record for all things walk-on, so happy to see walk-on running backs Shawn Cannon and Mike Padilla get their first career carries. Nice game, too, for defensive end Matt Aycox, who made a good stop on special teams and another on defense. Tackles Jacob Sims and Joe Herzhauser were able to get in on the late drives as well.
-- Just so I have this right: Ben Williams, who had 186 yards last week, had minus-1 yards on six carries against UCF. USF's running backs totaled 66 yards on 24 carries. And the Bulls won by 52. OK. This is a versatile offense, I'll say that.
-- Punt coverage unit has been a strength on special teams. A Delbert Alvarado punt was downed at the UCF 3, and on the next play, Kevin Smith slipped untouched in the end zone for a safety. Richard Clebert gets credit as the nearest Bull on the play, but you can give those two points to Alvarado and Trae Williams, who downed the well-placed punt.
-- How about Leavitt seeming to take Dave Wannstedt's back? The Pitt coach made an ill-advised call to go for it on fourth down in overtime when a field goal would have tied Navy; his Panthers were stopped and lost. Leavitt, on one of his calls, without any names: "That's one of those deals where it works, oh, wow. If it doesn't work out, you're really foolish. Everybody sits back and rips on you. I saw that happen this week with a couple of games, a coach in a position where, whatever he decides, if it goes he's great, if it doesn't, he's not very smart. He can understand every decision he made. It's very difficult."
-- Here's how serious Leavitt takes special teams. His first observation after a 52-point win was about his failing to guard against the fake punt that led to a UCF field goal: "I made a very poor cool not going punt-safe on that fourth-and-1. I know better. That's really foolish on my part. I knew they'd fake the punt. It's clear as day, and anybody that has their head on right knows that. I gave those three points up for our defense."
-- Classic Grothe play I didn't even get to reference in my game story. Grothe's thrown two potential TDs, dropped by Carlton Mitchell and Amarri Jackson. He scrambles 20 yards behind the line of scrimmage to avoid a sack, then on the run hits Taurus Johnson in stride for a 34-yard gain to the 3, setting up USF's first touchdown. Back-to-back 100-yard games is pretty strong, too.
-- Lots of complaints about the Conference USA crew of officials, but the worst call had to be putting USF on its 1-yard line in the fourth quarter when the UCF player who downed the ball was plainly in the end zone when he downed the ball. Just a bad call. There was a UCF punt in the closing minutes where a whistle was blown, and both teams' players stopped moving, but the officials inexplicably kept the play live, and sure enough, a UCF player got hurt on the play.
OK. Getting some sleep. Keep those questions and comments coming. I'll be back with some links in the morning ...