Like Nevada win, USF may need depth vs. Rutgers
Times correspondent Joe Polito has notes leading up to Thursday night's USF game vs. Rutgers, leading with the depth the Bulls needed in Saturday's win at Nevada, and why they might need more of the same against the Scarlet Knights ...
TAMPA -- On a shortened week compounded by cross-country travel and physical fatigue, USF will need to reproduce what coach Skip Holtz called “a total team effort” to beat Rutgers on Thursday.
Following USF’s dramatic one-point win over Nevada, much of the attention went deservedly to WR Andre Davis for his record-breaking performance and to QB B.J. Daniels for his late-game heroics. But coaches and players agreed that just as much credit is owed to the team’s depth on both sides of the ball.
When the Bulls defense couldn’t keep up with the uptempo Wolf Pack offense in the first quarter, important substitutions in the second quarter allowed USF to stop the bleeding. LBs Ruben Garcia, Reshard Cliett and Mike Jeune as well as DBs Jon Lejiste, Fidel Montgomery and Joshua Brown all contributed during pivotal moments throughout the game. Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said he was pleased with early production from the backups.
“We knew it was going to be a fourth quarter game,” he said. “We played guys right away in the second quarter, got them in there and got them significant reps right from the beginning. And that paid dividends at the end there.”
The rest provided in the middle of the game proved vital, as the Bulls defense was able to force a three-and-out following a failed onside kick and ended the game with a sack by DE Tevin Mims.
On offense, USF reserves had to step up in the absence of injured teammates. RB Lindsey Lamar replaced the injured Marcus Shaw and delivered a 35-yard touchdown early in the third quarter. After WR Sterling Griffin went down with the knee injury that would end his 2012 season, Chris Dunkley hauled in a 52-yard touchdown with two and a half minutes left in the game.
And while Bulls fans might cherish the go-ahead touchdown catch by WR Andre Davis, Davis himself was quick to credit fellow WR Deonte Welch for setting up his 56-yard grab.
“I was running heavy, deep routes, trying to make a play,” he said. “I was real tired … and when I was able to come out, Deonte Welch came in and stepped in for me (to make) a critical third down conversion. And I appreciate that he gave me a chance to make a big play.”