Mailbag! You asked, I'm answering ...
Being busy with the live blog Saturday night and visiting with family in Orlando on Sunday, I haven't had as much time to respond to questions among the tons of comments you guys have posted over the weekend. So I'm responding here -- should have plenty of news today, with the weekly news conference a day early this week and injury updates from practice. First, your questions ...
Q: "Ok, If we have a timeout left and DEL does not like to kick from the extreme angle, why not run a running play to the middle of the field and then kick??? dumb" -- Reality
A: Many of you have asked that question, and there's not a real good explanation from Jim Leavitt. With 15 seconds and a timeout left in a tie game, there's little risk involved in a simple running play to the right side to put Delbert Alvarado with a straight-on kick for the game. Worst scenario, you don't gain yards and just take away the angle, then call the time out. Haven't gotten an answer as to whether USF used its last timeout on that last drive or not. As for kicking on second down, the logic there is that if there's a botched snap, you can fall on the ball, take the loss and still have time for another kick. I thought Matt Grothe ran a solid two-minute drill up until the kick -- 10 plays in 80 seconds without burning a time out is nothing to complain about.
Q: "Is Coach Leavitt still the special teams coach? If so, why in the world doesn't he hire a coach to specialize on special teams? It is consistently one of the weakest parts of our team and I can't count the number of games where special teams either cost us the game or made it much closer than it ever needed to be." -- Jerome
A: Leavitt oversees the special teams and devotes a lot of time in practice -- he assigns an assistant coach to each aspect of special teams -- punt return, punt coverage, field goal, field goal coverage, kickoff, kickoff coverage, etc. ... The NCAA allows nine assistants and USF doesn't have one coach assigned to special teams, as some but few colleges do. To put a coach on special teams, USF would have to either go to one coach for defensive line (instead of two) or lump tight ends in with the offensive line and have a graduate assistant handle the position. Leavitt's made it clear in the last few offseasons that he likes the model he's chosen, however successful USF's special teams have been.
Q: "When USF was up 14 with 3 mins left why is the offensive cord. calling for a passing play when everyone in the world knows USF should just run out the clock? Instead Grothe throws an interception which leads to a UCF touchdown." -- Dan
A: I don't know that the passing play was called. Grothe tried a dumpoff pass to running back Mo Plancher, but UCF's linebacker made a nice play to intercept it, setting off UCF's final rally. Here's what Leavitt said: "There is nothing wrong with punting the football. We have to tell Matt to not throw it at all and just run it up in there or run the ball. ... We have to make better decisions ... because we put our defense in such a tough position." UCF also got an extra 40 seconds or so of clock time because USF threw an incomplete pass on the possession between the Knights' two late touchdowns. Up seven with two minutes to play, seconds are probably more valuable than yards.
Q: "And last question Greg, where was Ben Williams tonight?" -- Dan
A: Williams had been slowed by an ankle injury in practice, but coaches had been optimistic about him from Tuesday on. He got the start but only had one carry, for a 1-yard loss. I'm guessing coaches didn't like what they saw and wanted to rest him. In fairness, I thought Mo Plancher and Richard Kelly had strong games -- 17 carries for 89 yards between them. USF had 10 first downs rushing the ball and UCF had two, an impressive stat when you consider that USF was without its top two backs and saw Jamar Taylor miss time with an injury as well. We'll know more today as to who will be available Friday.
Q: "Greg Gregory continues to call bad games, up by 14 with success in throwing the ball, he tries to run the clock and let UCF defense get back in the game." -- AnhVu Nguyen
Q: "What the Bulls were doing with 8 and 5 minutes on the clock, throwing the football when all you needed to do was to run the ball, and the clock which we were doing effectively." -- RGR
A: Can't tell if you guys wanted more throws, which had been successful, or all running, which helps burn out the clock. In USF's defense, the Bulls ran 12 offensive plays between the 12-minute mark and the two-minute mark, and nine of them were running plays. The first pass was on a third-and-10 and was a (seemingly) safe dumpoff that Jamar Taylor fumbled, with Ryan Schmidt recovering the loose ball. The second one, which everyone is talking about, was Grothe's second-and-9 floater that was intercepted. Not sure on the third, as Grothe scrambled on second-and-11 from his 17 and threw the ball away out of bounds. Then again, it's not like UCF needed that extra time to score the tying touchdown -- their final scoring drive was two plays, 29 seconds. USF piled up 500 yards of offense on the road without its top two running backs, so I'm not sure if all the Gregory criticisms are merited.
More to come, and any other unanswered questions, just drop 'em in the comments ...