USF aftermath: FSU game nearly sold out
Lots to get to from USF's 59-0 win against Charleston Southern on Saturday night -- here's another link to a great photo gallery from Times photographer Dirk Shadd.
-- FSU brought in USF next week to help sell tickets, and the Bulls have done that, as less than 1,000 tickets remain for Saturday's game at Doak Campbell Stadium, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. USF fans have bought more than 12,000 seats, so there should be plenty of green in FSU's "whiteout" promotion. It'll be the second- or third-largest crowd ever to see a Bulls football game -- there were 99,235 at Penn State in 2005, and 82,617 for Auburn in 2007. Doak Campbell's capacity is listed at 82,300.
-- USF beat CSU by the same margin as No. 1 Florida did in a 62-3 win two weeks ago. Buccaneers coach Jay Mills made more comparisons between the Bulls and Gators here, saying this:
“USF is obviously an excellent football team. We expect them to contend for the Big East title and play in a major bowl game. The future is very bright for USF. I saw some things that were very comparable to Florida, especially at the wide receiver position.”
It's hard to compare stats from 59-point wins, but the Bulls defense held CSU to half as many first downs (9) as Florida, and much less total yards -- 188, compared to 324 in Gainesville.
-- How much does Matt Grothe's knee injury impact the Bulls? Consider this -- two plays after Grothe went down, receiver Carlton Mitchell caught a 44-yard pass from B.J. Daniels, only to see it brought back on a penalty because Mitchell had lined up wrong, making tight end Andrew Ketchel an ineligible receiver downfield.
"It was a penalty. It was on me. I should have been off the ball," Mitchell said. "I should have been more focused, but my mind was a little cloudy. I"m mad at myself for letting it get like that, but I feel for Matt."
Of course, we'll have a lot more on Grothe's injury as we learn more, potentially today.
-- Without the usual TV broadcast, haven't seen a replay from Saturday's game, and while cornerback Jerome Murphy was credited with the blocked field goal, safety Nate Allen said linebacker Chris Robinson was saying he had gotten a piece of it on the sidelines.
"I was lucky I was able to get a good bounce. It bounced up into my chest and I took off with it," Allen said.
Allen said it was hard for USF to focus on CSU, knowing the opportunity that awaits them in Tallahassee on Saturday.
"It was tough coming into this game not to think about next week," Allen said. "We're going to be focused. These three tuneup games, they're done, and it's a whole new world now, like Coach (Jim) Leavitt said. We have to get the young guys going and get them going for this big game."
-- Stat check: USF's pass defense is ranked third nationally in pass defense, allowing 84.3 yards per game, and the Bulls are one of seven I-A teams that haven't given up a passing touchdown yet. ... The Bulls are No. 2 nationally in scoring defense behind Oklahoma, though again, they've played as easy a schedule as you'll find in the BCS conferences. FSU's passing offense ranks No. 21 nationally, averaging 272 yards per game. ... Bulls are one of six teams in I-A with 10 or more rushing touchdowns ... Again, remember who it's against, but USF ranks No. 4 nationally in third-down defense, holding opponents to a 20 percent success rate. USF's offense is second nationally on third down, converting 60 percent and trailing only Florida.
-- Delbert Alvarado's missed field goal was USF's only offensive blemish in the first eight possessions, as the Bulls had touchdowns on their other seven drives. As a result, CSU started only one drive farther out than its own 28-yard line -- on the 40 after Eric Schwartz sent a kickoff out of bounds. Schwartz also had a special-teams tackle on the 25-yard line, pretty deep for covering his own kick.
-- USF still hasn't found a starting defensive line -- George Selvie has started every game, but in the other three spots, USF has started seven different players in nine spots, including Craig Marshall starting one game at end and one at tackle. That creates a challenge for Florida State -- which players do you prepare for on the defensive line? Expect to see multiple looks from the defense this week, and the flexibility will be seen best in the front four ...
-- Speaking of crazy depth, USF had 12 different players catch passes Saturday and seven players carry the ball. Receiver Sterling Griffin and tight end Andrew Ketchel (37 yards!) got their first career catches, and running back Demetris Murray got the Bulls' last 11 carries for 59 yards. Probably smart of USF to take it easy with B.J. Daniels in the fourth quarter -- he had just one pass and one carry in the final period.
-- Mentioned this on the live chat, but a cool moment involving USF's oft-mentioned double-numbering. On USF's first punt return, the Bulls called time out, realizing that both returner Faron Hornes and walk-on Chris Lane, lined up on punt block, were wearing No. 23. Getting caught with two players wearing the same jersey on the field at the same time is an illegal substitution penalty, so Lane switched to No. 24 for the rest of the night and, presumably, this season.
-- I'll be curious to see if USF moves up in the national polls. I count eight teams that were in "also receiving votes" land that lost Saturday -- Oregon State, Texas Tech, West Virginia, Boston College, Baylor, Arizona, Arkansas and Minnesota. So there's a lot of bottom-five spots open on voters' ballots -- the lack of competition and the uncertainty surrounding Grothe could limit new votes for the Bulls.
-- Some of you have asked -- if Grothe is out this week and something happens to B.J. Daniels, the Bulls would turn to Evan Landi, who will get most of his reps at quarterback this week instead of receiver. Beyond that, Leavitt said receiver Theo Wilson, a quarterback in high school, would likely be next, rather than take tight end Isaac Virgin out of a redshirt or move Victor Marc back from defense. As soon as we hear more on Grothe's injury, we'll post an update, so keep checking back ...