Final thoughts on USF-Louisville ...
Went back and watched the USF-Louisville game again on ESPN360.com and have a few more notes before we move on to USF-Miami on Saturday ... Ten thoughts:
-- Unsung hero of the game might be sophomore cornerback Quenton Washington, who saved three points with two big plays. When Louisville took the lead on Trent Guy’s punt return, Washington got in to block the extra point, which allowed USF to have a 17-16 lead at halftime.
And when the Cardinals scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter and trailed 27-22, that lost point prompted Louisville to go for two, and Washington – a 5-foot-10 cornerback covering 6-foot-8 receiver Josh Chichester – made a leaping play to deflect the conversion away from the big target. He's giving up 10 inches on that matchup ...
-- We’ve seen this before, but the Rutgers loss is clearly sticking with USF coach Jim Leavitt, who brought up his frustration with that 31-0 loss several times in his postgame news conference. Take this quote on Rutgers’ defense:
"Certainly we don’t have any idea how to play against it. We haven’t done very well there. This win doesn’t help that situation at all," Leavitt said. "That will burn up my rear forever. It just will."
-- Can’t remember a game where more Bulls players slipped and fell on the turf at Raymond James Stadium, most notably B.J. Daniels on the second-to-last play of the first half.
I counted at least five other plays where Bulls players fell trying to make cuts – Dontavia Bogan on a reverse and on a kickoff return, and Daniels near the goal line on USF’s second drive. Not sure whether there was some kind of change in cleats, but the home surface wasn’t kind to USF.
-- Most encouraging thing about USF's offense: lots of long, sustained drives. Bulls had five scoring drives of 70 yards or more, including a 16-play drive right before halftime that marks the most plays in any drive this season. The Bulls had four drives of at least 10 plays on Saturday, after having just six in the previous nine games this season.
-- USF had six penalties for 44 yards, which is low by Bulls standards this season, but Leavitt was still frustrated by the lack of discipline, and that was part of why he wasn’t a happy coach at halftime.
"I was hot, because of the way we played. I was so hot," Leavitt said. "Whether we got the field goal or not, it was more about playing good football and doing the right things, doing things with discipline. Again, I saw the flags thrown again today, and that just irritates the dog out of me. It’s laziness, laziness on some guys. They didn’t move their feet and they’re grabbing. I know exactly what they did. We work on it, but obviously we don’t work on it enough."
-- If you watch an entire game on ESPN360.com, it amounts to like 20 times through the "world’s most interesting man" commercial for Dos Equis beer. So if you’re counting at home, that’s cuarenta equis.
-- Rough game for USF’s running backs, as Mo Plancher – who had some nice runs - lost a fumble late and dodged another when a screen pass he dropped was ruled an incompletion. Mike Ford fumbled inside the USF 10-yard line on his first carry and was fortunate that fullback Richard Kelly fell on the loose ball. Ford had 3 yards on four carries – in the last four games, he has 30 yards on 17 carries.
-- If you watched the TV broadcast, the undisputed star was … offensive assistant Mike Lube. I counted seven times the ESPN Regional crew showed a shot of USF’s coaches up in the booth, thinking they were showing a shot of Bulls QB Matt Grothe. Each time, they showed Lube, wearing shades and a Bulls cap. Telltale sign for me? Lube was drinking a Diet Coke, and I don’t know that Grothe does that.
-- On review, USF’s defense played better after a second look – Louisville had 199 yards of total offense after three quarters, with 68 of their yards coming in the final six minutes when USF had a 12-point lead. Linebacker Kion Wilson needs just nine tackles now to go over 100 for the season …
-- Interesting local note – Western Kentucky is expected today to name Stanford running backs coach Willie Taggart as its new head coach. Taggart, a Bradenton Manatee graduate from Palmetto, will certainly be recruiting the Tampa area more in his new job.