Injury, penalty, missed block led to key FSU TD
TAMPA -- The most pivotal -- and puzzling -- play of USF's 30-17 loss to Florida State was a perfect storm of problems coming together, leading to FSU scoring a defensive touchdown off a fumble by a backup quarterback on the final play of the third quarter.
To set up the scene, on the previous play, USF had seen quarterback B.J. Daniels scramble 20 yards to the FSU 47-yard line, only to see the run brought back by a holding penalty on freshman tight end Sean Price. Daniels took a hit to the head at the end of his scramble, and play was stopped long enough that officials required him to sit out one play, sending backup Matt Floyd out for a third-and-12 from the USF 23.
"Not sure exactly what happened," coach Skip Holtz said. "He just came over and he wasn't ready to go. I was like (whistles) time out. I told the official 'I need a time out. The young man is hurt.' They said he had to come out for a play. Even if they had said he could have gone back in, I probably wouldn't have put him in at that point. He was a little woozy after that hit he took on their sideline."
Floyd, rolling to this right, was blindsided by FSU defensive end Cornellius "Tank" Carradine, fumbled and saw the loose ball scooped up by FSU's Christian Jones and returned for a touchdown and a 30-10 FSU lead.
Fans asked after the game if USF should have called for a passing play with Floyd in the game, seeing how he had been thrust into the game on almost no notice, but communications problems kept offensive coordinator Todd Fitch from knowing Daniels had to sit out a play.
"We had some problems with our headsets, and I had to go to a cord," Holtz said. "That made it kind of hard for me to work the sidelines, so I had to take my headset off to talk to the official with B.J. ... So, they put it back in play, and Coach Fitch wasn't aware if (Daniels) was in or out. He called the play, they ran back out and I got back on the headsets. Do you take a time out at that point? Hindsight's easy. I think if we chip the end like we did all day. B.J. wasn't hit on the blindside by a defensive end all night. We ran that protection most of the night. We just had a mistake on that play and we didn't chip the end, so he came free off the edge is really what happened on it."
USF was also giving left tackle Damien Edwards a possession off to catch his breath, so sophomore Darrell Williams was in at left tackle. Carradine blew past Williams, but running back Demetris Murray, rather than "chip" the incoming end, shifted inside to guard against a pass rush from the interior, allowing Carradine to catch Floyd from behind to force the fumble. Holtz said the quick turnaround between plays and communications issues made it more clear why the Bulls called for a pass with a backup QB in for one snap.
"It's easy to call a play when there's 8 seconds left on the play clock," Holtz said. "You've got to call it with 40, when the guy hits the ground and you've got to call the next play, get the personnel in. It was a communication thing."
Said offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, who calls plays from up in the booth: "Tough situation with Matt coming in. To be honest with you, it was kind of off-guard. Didn't know he was coming in, didn't know about the injury. Had a blind runner on the backside, hit him from the backside. Obviously, the ball coughed out. You can't turn the ball over, especially against a good football team."
Said Daniels: "The crown of my helmet. Just got a little dizzy. My vision was blurred. It happens all the time, but this was one instance where it was longer."