USF-FIU: Ten quick thoughts ...

21

September

I'm here in Naples, which I picked as a halfway point home -- didn't want to drive all the way back, didn't want to have to drive all the way in the morning. Still hoping I can find a pair of tickets for the Rays game so my 5-year-old can run around the bases after their last home game ... of the regular season.

-- Can't say enough about Brouce Mompremier and what he means to this team. He and Carlton Williams are two of the biggest leaders on this team, fifth-year seniors who came in during the Conference USA days and have seen it all. My recorder's batteries just ran out, so I can't get you the great quotes from his teammates and coaches -- I'll add them Sunday. Tyrone McKenzie recalled how much Mompremier taught him last season, said he cried for a second thinking that something serious might have happened to his friend. This was a proud homecoming for Mompremier, who played at Miami Edison and had lots of family on hand. The word from USF was very encouraging Saturday night -- a night in the hospital, mostly as a precaution, with lots of tests on his neck to make sure everything is OK. We'll keep you posted ...

-- I think USF will take a hit in the polls as a result of such a lackluster final score: 17-9 is just unimpressive from No. 12. Will No. 10 Auburn fall below USF for a close loss to No. 6 LSU? Probably. But I bet No. 13 Ohio State leapfrogs them, and No. 14 BYU, having outscored UCLA and Wyoming 103-0 in the past two weeks, could jump them, too. No. 16 Penn State, who beat Temple 45-3, could even move ahead. Again, last week I thought USF should have moved up two spots to No. 17, so this isn't that huge a deal either way ...

-- There's a ton to say about the offense, especially in the red zone, but fans shouldn't be too hard on USF's defense. FIU didn't cross USF's 35-yard line until 8:54 was left in the game, and the defense essentially gave up one big play, and that was in the final two minutes. Again, especially considering the way they've finished the last two games, it's not the way fans want to see the game end. In the last three games, USF has given up more points in the fourth quarter -- 37 -- than they have in the rest of the games combined (30).

-- I wouldn't be surprised if you see a change on punt returns. Marcus Edwards hasn't done much since his record-breaking game in the opener. FIU had eight punts, and USF totaled 12 yards returning them. There were three downed inside the 20, including two Edwards simply let go past him rather than attempt a difficult catch. The safety with two minutes left? If Edwards doesn't let the punt past him to be downed on the 1-yard line, it's not an issue. I thought the special-teams kick coverage was solid, both on punts and kickoffs.

-- With the exception of Jamar Taylor on one third-quarter drive -- 51 yards on six carries -- it wasn't a good night for USF's running backs. The rest of their night adds up to 32 carries for 85 yards. Taylor loses a fumble on the opening drive. Next drive, Richard Kelly has runs of 8 and 10 yards, but fumbles, recovering the ball himself -- he didn't get another carry rest of the night. Two carries after Kelly's fumble, Mo Plancher gets popped at the 2-yard line, but officials rule his forward progress had stopped before he fumbled -- he only got two more carries from there.

-- That leads me to this: Mike Ford isn't his old self. He had two crucial touchdown runs, yes, but his final numbers are 14 carries for 24 yards, with no run longer than 6 yards. He's a guy USF needs healthy, especially in short-yardage situations. Twice in the third quarter, he was stopped short on third-and-1. The latter I just don't get: Taylor runs six straight plays, gaining 13, 19, 5, 8, 1 and 5 yards ... and then USF lets Ford try to finish the drive, with no luck. On fourth-and-1, with three backs in the backfield, they go for a Grothe keeper that comes up short. I'll have quotes from Greg Gregory when I get home.

--  Is Rutgers really 0-3? Did the Knights really lose to a Navy team that had lost to Duke and Ball State? After Morgan State this week, Rutgers opens Big East play at West Virginia, then at Cincinnati, which could easily have them 1-5, with Connecticut and trips to USF and Pittsburgh still on the schedule. Pittsburgh got a solid win against Iowa, but the Panthers' rush defense still looks suspect.

-- I'm going to have to do some research on the defensive line this week: FIU had given up nine sacks in two games, the most of any team in the country, and USF can only muster one sack? Yes, FIU only passed the ball 21 times, and George Selvie was sidelined with an ankle injury. The Panthers shouldn't have more sacks than USF does, whatever the score is. And for all the turnovers forced last season, the Bulls have three takeaways in four games -- they're not good enough to keep winning without short fields and/or a defensive touchdown now and then ...

-- I wrote a feature on USF receiver Taurus Johnson, and one thing receivers coach Mike Canales talked about was the need for Johnson to be consistent, to not disappear and become a non-factor in games. Johnson had two catches for a total of minus-4 yards against a defense that had allowed 82 points in its first two games. The receivers as a whole were nearly absent after the first quarter -- Grothe went 6-for-9 for 88 yards in the first, then 8-for-13 for 48 yards the rest of the game. It's not like the game was out of hand where you'd want to stop throwing the ball ...

-- If that 8-for-13 for 48 seems unimpressive, how about 8-for-13 for 46 yards? That's what FIU's Paul McCall threw for in three-plus quarters, while rushing eight times for 15 yards. The Panthers seemed to pick up a step when Wayne Younger came in -- he converted a fourth-and-1 and third-and-1 on his first drive, which led to a missed field goal, then converted another fourth-and-1 on the next drive, then had the 61-yard pass to set up the touchdown. I'd play Younger more if I were FIU ...

[Last modified: Thursday, May 27, 2010 12:54pm]

    

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