TE Busbee had inspiration for toughness, catch
We wrote back in September how Bulls tight end Ben Busbee talked after the Florida State win with the parents of his former teammate and friend, Will Bleakley, who died at sea in a boating accident in March.
Busbee was a freshman in 2006 when Bleakley was a senior, and USF coach Jim Leavitt said the memory of Bleakley's toughness as a walk-on turned starter served as a motivation last week as Busbee battled back from a shoulder injury he suffered in the loss at Rutgers.
"It was Bleakley's (26th) birthday on Friday. Ben and I talked about that a little bit during the week," Leavitt said. "Will meant so much to him, certainly to all of us. We talked about how his shoulder was sore, and I said 'What would Will do with that bad elbow?' That might have been kind of over the top a little bit, but Ben looked at me and I said 'Will would have played.' I asked him if he wanted any motivation. I said 'I've got motivation for you.' He made such a great catch. I'm just so proud of Ben for that play."
Busbee was ruled down at the 2-yard line, and he showed his toughness again two plays later, coming back out on the field to block on B.J. Daniels' 1-yard touchdown run, securing the Bulls' win.
"That might be one of the great catches in South Florida history," Leavitt said. "Have you ever seen a catch where you end up staying with the ball getting hit like that? (Receiver Dontavia) Bogan made a catch two years ago that was unbelievable, but I don't know if I've ever seen it like that."
-- Leavitt said backup quarterback Evan Landi played 23 snaps at receiver on Saturday, though he didn't have a catch. Leavitt said he understands the injury risks involved in playing his backup quarterback, but the coaching staff felt it necessary after the Bulls were shut out at Rutgers.
"I want to tell you something, you're rolling the dice, big," Leavitt said. "After the loss, we just figured 'Well, heck,' and laid it all out there. ... He did a very good job, graded out very well."
-- Leavitt still has a scar on his nose from his helmetless headbutt at halftime, but on Louisville's punt return for a touchdown, redshirt freshman Armando Sanchez lost his helmet early in the play and continued to run downfield, trying to make a play. What does Leavitt tell players to do once their helmet is off?
"I don't know what I would tell them," Leavitt said. "Maybe I should tell them. I always thought if a helmet comes off, the play was dead or something and they blow a whistle. They didn't, and that's scary. What should I tell them? I don't know. That's a good question. I'd say 'Be careful.'"
-- Leavitt said he also picked up on the large number of Bulls players slipping on the turf, but rather than blame the surface or cleats, he said it comes down to proper positioning while running. "I think more of it is putting your body in the right position, getting your feet underneath you," he said.
Speaking of slipping, Leavitt said that when Daniels slipped at the 5-yard line with about 12 seconds left and no time outs, that call was Daniels' and not from USF's coaches. Daniels was able to spike the ball and get an Eric Schwartz field goal for a 17-16 lead, but the run was not the play called.
"He would have scored a touchdown on the one -- it was all there. He wasn't supposed to call that, but he did," Leavitt said. "That was his deal. As well as he played, that's fine. He had an extraordinary game."
-- I missed this initially, but Western Kentucky's new coach, Willie Taggart, will have another first in USF history when he leads the Hilltoppers to Raymond James Stadium next September. Taggart will be the first person to play and coach against the Bulls -- he was WKU's quarterback in wins against the Bulls during the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Taggart had three touchdowns in both games, and rushed for 206 yards in 1998 as WKU overcame a 17-0 deficit to 31-24. WKU is 0-10, so that might be the best storyline for that game ...