Leftover thoughts from USF-FAU ...
Damn Typepad.com software just ate another late-night post. Arggh. Hey, I'm so happy my Phils made the playoffs for the first time in 14 years. Feel free to play into the second week of October next time, guys. ...
-- USF's next two games lost some of their luster Saturday, with Central Florida giving up 52 points in a collapse against East Carolina and Rutgers losing at home to still-undefeated Cincinnati. Of USF's seven remaining opponents, only Cincy and Connecticut have less than two losses now. Cincy still has Louisville and Pittsburgh before they play at USF, but I think both of those are wins for the Bearcats. If USF and Cincy are undefeated on Nov. 3, I think the GameDay folks are waiting for that possibility to come to Tampa. Can Louisville have three losses and still have USF, West Virginia and Rutgers on its schedule?
-- Matt Grothe's second-half passing numbers? 3-for-8 for 20 yards. Last week against West Virginia? 3-for-7 for 20 yards in the second half. That's two games that were very much in play in the second half, and half of USF's offense really wasn't a factor. For all that talk of a balanced offense this season, the Bulls passed for only four first downs Saturday; they rushed for 14.
-- Where are the receivers? Remember Jessie Hester Jr.? He had six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown against Auburn. In three games since? Five for 50 yards. Taurus Johnson? In the last three games, he has six for 61. And Marcus Edwards, who had 28 catches last year? He has three catches for 14 yards this season. He didn't show the best judgment on punt returns Saturday, either. USF has two pass plays of longer than 16 yards in the last two games.
-- Most underappreciated player in the last two wins? Punter Delbert Alvarado. Booms a huge kick late against West Virginia, coupled with a great tackle by Louis Gachette. Had two big kicks in the final six minutes Saturday, with one fielded inside the 10 and, after penalty, pinned FAU on its 4-yard line; the last punt was nearly downed at the 1 after getting fished out of the end zone by Trae Williams and Houston Hess. The play was ruled a touchback, but you can't question the effort on the punt coverage unit. Alvarado averaged 43.2 yards on six punts, which was 9 yards better than FAU's average.
-- Is USF shedding its well-earned reputation as a high-penalty team? Saturday's game marked the fourth straight game the Bulls have had fewer penalty yards than the week before. After 89 yards on flags against Elon, they've dropped to 60, then 55, then 40, then 39 on Saturday.
-- Back to UCF's meltdown against East Carolina. Up 28-17 at halftime, they turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions, which led to 28 ECU points. The Knights outgained the Pirates 495-370, and had 29 first downs (the USF record is 31) while ECU had 16. If you commit five turnovers and force zero, it's hard to win.