Leavitt on drive before OT: 'Put that on me'
Hey, still in Orlando, haven't gotten to write much here, but here's the follow-up for Monday's paper, looking at the botched finish to the last drive in regulation Saturday night ...
ORLANDO -- A 25-yard touchdown pass and defensive stop in overtime gave USF a 31-24 thriller over Central Florida on Saturday, but it also pardoned a decision that saw the Bulls take a penalty before their missed field goal at the end of regulation.
After UCF tied the game at 24-24 with 1:40 to play, USF quarterback Matt Grothe calmly guided the Bulls from their 26 to the UCF 20-yard line, covering 54 yards in 10 plays in 80 seconds.
Facing a second-and-10 at the 20 with a time out and 15 seconds left, USF lined up for a 37-yard field goal from the left side of the field but let the game clock expire, taking a 5-yard delay-of-game penalty. Kicker Delbert Alvarado, who made a 20-yard field goal but had a 46-yard attempt blocked in the third quarter, then attempted a 42-yarder, but hooked it just left, sending the game to overtime. USF coach Jim Leavitt said not having the kicking team ready for the initial kick was his fault.
"You can put that on me," Leavitt said. "I thought we had more time there to get those guys lined up. I can't fault anybody else for that. There's no excuse there. There really isn't."
Leavitt said the delay penalty didn't bother him -- he seemed unfazed on the sidelines -- because he had confidence in Alvarado's strong leg and knew the longer distance cut down on the angle of the kick.
"When it got back to the 25, I knew it wouldn't be a distance thing with Delbert, so it made it better for the angle, so it didn't bother me," Leavitt said. "I can't say I did that on purpose. I didn't. He just didn't hit the ball. We've got to find somebody that can hit the ball."
Alvarado, who missed a week of practice in August with a groin injury, hasn't had a good start, missing his only attempt against Tennessee-Martin from 46 yards. Add a block and a miss Saturday, and Leavitt will give a long look this week to other options, like true freshman Maikon Bonani of Lake Wales.
In giving up a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and two long punt returns from UCF's Joe Burnett, Leavitt had all kinds of special-teams issues. One week after totaling a Big East record 226 yards in punt returns, USF totaled minus-2 yards off nine UCF punts.
"We have to do something with our kickoff team. I am incredibly disappointed with that," Leavitt said. "I am terribly disappointed with our punt team and punt coverage. I am very disappointed in our field goal team and yes, I have to look at different things there. We have to try something different and get something squared away."
INJURIES: Running back Mike Ford sat out the UCF game with an ankle injury, and fellow RB Ben Williams was limited to one carry with an ankle injury of his own. The Bulls hope to have both healthy Friday against Kansas, along with tight end Trent Pupello, who also played sparingly with an ankle injury.