Gregory: Bootleg decision 'a bad call'
USF offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said Saturday's loss at Connecticut was especially difficult for him, knowing how close the Bulls came to a tying touchdown in the closing minutes.
"It was a tough day, because you make what ends up being a bad call, and that bothers you," Gregory said Thursday. "It was just disappointing because I really liked our plan, really liked the way we moved the football. We made mistakes and left so many points on the field."
USF had five trips inside Connecticut's 10-yard line and came away with only 10 points, with penalties, a goal-line interception and missed field goals costing the Bulls critical scoring opportunities. Three chances from the 1-yard line failed in the final quarter, and Gregory said his decision to call for a naked bootleg run by quarterback Matt Grothe was, in hindsight, a mistake. Grothe was dropped for an 11-yard loss, setting up an incomplete pass on fourth-and-goal.
"The call was a bad call, because the reward wasn't worth the risk involved when we called it," Gregory said. "That's something I have to live with. It isn't the first time, isn't the last. ... I wasn't disappointed with our plan. I thought our plan was exactly right to move the football. We just left the points on the field that we've got to come up with."
As running backs coach Carl Franks did earlier this week, Gregory defended the decision to have sophomore Moise Plancher in the game as part of a three-back set on second-and-goal at the 1-yard line. Plancher, who had only one previous carry this season, was stopped for no gain.
"To me, that wasn't any big deal. We've scored on that play with every back we've got," Gregory said. "It's not like we design it to go to one guy. It's all how the play is blocked, and we didn't block it as well as we could. I can tell you that for a fact. Had we blocked it as well as we could, not dominated but just put our hats on the right people, he'd have been in the end zone. I can assure you of that."
Gregory said he's confident his offense can get past its red-zone struggles, a must if the Bulls want to end their two-game losing streak on Saturday at home against Cincinnati.
"We all know how important this football game is. They'll play," Gregory said.
USF coach Jim Leavitt said receivers Amarri Jackson (knee) and Taurus Johnson (ankle), who have not practiced all week, will not play Saturday, with freshmen Carlton Mitchell and Dontavia Bogan stepping up as starters in their absence. Tackle Walt Walker will miss his second game recovering from a knee injury, but running back Mike Ford (ribs) practiced Thursday and will be a game-time decision.