Notes: Early drive set tone; Bogan sidelined
GAINESVILLE -- As first impressions go, it was exactly what USF wanted, marching 96 yards on 17 plays and converting four third downs for a touchdown and 7-0 lead on No. 8 Florida that persisted most of the first half.
"Our first drive, it really fed the whole team, that we could actually move the ball against these guys," center Sampson Genus said. "That's one of the biggest things, to be able to really test a defense out like that."
Quarterback B.J. Daniels ran the read option well, going for gains of 10 and 12 yards early, and senior Mo Plancher had big runs of his own. Add a 21-yard gain on an option run by Lindsey Lamar, and by the time the Bulls scored, they had taken 9 minutes and 58 seconds off the clock, helping make the crowd of 90,612 less of a factor early in the game.
USF went 4-for-4 on third downs on that drive, but went 1-for-8 the rest of the way.
Bogan injured: USF played most of the game without its top receiver, as senior Dontavia Bogan injured his ankle on a 12-yard catch on the first drive and barely played from that point.
Without their most proven receiver, the Bulls struggled to throw the ball, completing just six passes on 23 attempts, the lone highlight being a 51-yard pass to receiver Evan Landi.
The severity of Bogan's injury is unknown, but with a bye week and then light opponents in Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic, it's unlikely to be a significant absence.
TE gets first TD: Though disappointment seeped into Andrew Ketchel after Saturday’s loss, the fifth-year senior said it was special to catch his first career touchdown in a place like Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Ketchel, who entered with only two career receptions, gave the Bulls a huge lift early, beating a defender in the back of the end zone to grab a 2-yard pass from Daniels off play action. It was the only catch of the game for the 6-foot-5, 250-pound tight end from Choctawhatchee High School in Shalimar.
“It was a great call by Coach (Skip Holtz), B.J. threw a great ball and the line protected. That’s really where it came from,” Ketchel said. “It really wasn’t from me. It was special to be a part of it, but that’s really not what we were there for. We wanted to win the game.”
Punter shines: USF coach Skip Holtz said all week he was looking for improvement on special teams, and the Bulls at least found it at punter.
Sophomore Justin Brockhaus-Kann totaled 244 yards on five attempts for an average of 48.8 yards, including a 57-yard boom that pinned Florida on its own 6-yard line early in the third quarter.
However, Holtz said he wasn’t as pleased with his kickoff team, which gave up two lengthy returns by Florida junior running back Jeff Demps, one of the nation’s best return specialists. Demps had a 41-yard return to begin the game and bolted for another 54 yards near the end of the third quarter.
“I know they’re a very talented team, but we said, ‘You know what, let’s challenge them,’” Holtz said. “Let’s kick it deep, and let’s challenge them. I’m not going to play the game of kick it out of bounds and start on the 40. And I thought we weren’t near as good as I’d like to be on our kickoff team.”
This and That: After mishandling three punt returns last week against Stony Brook, Holtz started freshman Terrence Mitchell, a Hillsborough High grad, and he fielded three cleanly … Sophomore wide receiver Lindsay Lamar, also a Hillsborough High grad, was the Bulls’ best kick returner, gaining 42 yards on two returns … Offensive tackle Mark Popek, a sophomore from Plant City, and defensive end Ryne Giddins, a redshirt freshman and Armwood High grad, returned from injury but didn’t make an impact in limited playing time. Popek rotated in with USF’s line. Giddins did not record a tackle.
-- Greg Auman and Kerry Klecic