Postgame comments from Greg Gregory
(Note: Conference USA will announce USF's bowl opponent in the St. Petersburg Bowl at 6 p.m., so check back for an update ...)
USF's offense moved the ball well against West Virginia in Saturday's 13-7 loss, outgaining the Mountaineers 356-280 and converting 11 of 16 third downs. What doomed the Bulls were three trips inside the West Virginia 20 in which USF came away with no points -- a fumble by Mike Ford on the 6-yard line on USF's first drive, an interception by Matt Grothe in the end zone at the end of the first half, and the final drive, which ended with an incompletion on a pass intended for Taurus Johnson at the back of the end zone.
Before this season, USF had never gone more than three consecutive games without scoring at least 21 points -- the Bulls have now done it in five games in a row, including four losses. The 70 points scored in those five games is the lowest-scoring five-game stretch in USF's 12-year history.
Here are some of offensive coordinator Greg Gregory's postgame comments:
Q: Obviously you'd like to have more points, but did you like the way you moved the ball?
A: The opportunity for points was there, there's no doubt about that. That's what we were looking for. We wanted to be able to run it and throw it. I felt like for the most part we executed, except for a handful of plays. You can't fumble at the 4. We had the right play called on the interception. Perfect. Exact. If we had to go back and run it again, we would have run it again, the exact same play. The ball was just a fraction behind. He didn't put it out. You aren't going to score unless you make those plays against a good defensive team. It's just not going to happen, but we've got to make them.
We made a great check, had (receiver) A.J. (Love) running free down the right sideline and just missed it. We had enough opportunities, and we just have to make those to score points. That's what's so frustrating. We were sitting there, the offensive staff, and you never know until you've watched the whole film and everything, but we feel like we had exactly the plan we wanted against them. We wanted to control the ball. When we had it, try to keep them off the field, which we did a fair job of. You've just got to make some plays. I'm sure I'll go back and look at some stuff and say 'Right here, I could have called this.' For the most part, I was pretty pleased with what we were doing. I thought we ran the ball on them pretty good, physically, and I thought we threw the ball. We had guys open and hit a fair amount, but we missed a couple of big ones.
Q: You guys ran more. Was that because of the weather or just something you wanted to do?
A: We felt like we had to run against them to beat them. We had to keep them off the field, keep Pat White off the field, help our defense, make it a fourth-quarter game. We felt like they were susceptible being run on, straight downhill at them, and that's what we did. We had (Mike ) Ford healthy, had (Jamar) Taylor healthy. We had everybody healthy.
Q: Is there anything you can point to when the offense does so well until you get to the 20 and then it stalls there?
A: No, because some of the same plays ... like, when we got to the 5, it's a fumble. I don't know -- he fumbled the ball. The one before the half, it's the throw. To a guy that's open. There's no doubt he's open, breaking on it. The kid made a good play, but the ball was behind. It was behind probably about that far (hands out, shoulder width apart). You've just got to put it out in front. I don't think it has anything to do with where the ball is, you've just got to make those plays. We're making them all the way down the field, but at some point, we just didn't make them.
Even the last drive, we had other opportunities during the game. It's just one of those games, and it's kind of been that kind of season. We've done a lot of real good things, but we've had some real bad mistakes at inopportune times.
Q: How do you feel your players were able to adjust to the weather?
A: I don't think the weather even fazed them. I thought they played their butts off, to tell you the truth. Hard, physical. I don't think the weather even fazed them. I was glad it snowed. I said this earlier in the week -- I thought snow would be better than just sitting out there in the cold. I don't think the cold affected them at all. Not a lick. And I was happy with (that), really happy, because there's been kind of a stigma around here that cold weather would have a negative effect. I don't think it fazes them. I know down the road, to win the Big East, you've got to play in cold weather.