USF football routed 40-9 at Miami
MIAMI -- For two weeks, the big question was which quarterback would step up and take over in USF's game at Miami.
The answer? Resoundingly, Miami's Stephen Morris, who passed for 413 yards and three touchdowns, torching USF's secondary and making the issue of USF's dueling backup quarterbacks a footnote in the Hurricanes' dominating 40-9 victory at Sun Life Stadium.
USF drops to 3-7, ending any lingering hopes of salvaging a bowl, and in a season marked by frustratingly close losses, this was the most lopsided defeat in Skip Holtz's three seasons.
"We didn't make plays when they needed to be made -- offensively, defensively, receivers, running backs," running back Demetris Murray said. "With a new quarterback, you've got to make plays for them. Magical plays, wild plays, you have to make those. We didn't do it today."
With starter B.J. Daniels lost to a season-ending leg injury, Holtz gave the nod to junior Bobby Eveld, taking him out of a redshirt instead of redshirt freshman Matt Floyd, Daniels' backup all season. Eveld left the game in the first quarter with a separated non-throwing shoulder, likely ending his season ("I'm sick ... probably the worst-case scenario," Holtz admitted), and Floyd threw two interceptions in his first six attempts, helping Miami to a 16-0 lead.
The floodgates opened in the second half, as the Hurricanes (6-5) struck for a long touchdown drive, then an 87-yard bomb; a minute into the fourth quarter, a 65-yard touchdown made it 37-3, a demoralizing score for a Bulls team whose previous six losses were by no more than 13 points.
"It is certainly disappointing to play the way we did tonight ... some of the uncontested balls we gave up defensively, some of the turnovers we had tonight were frustrating," said Holtz, who called his pass defense (456 yards) "poor."
Morris threw for 413 -- the second-most ever against the Bulls -- and Miami had five pass plays longer than USF's longest offensive play, running away with the game after an overtime USF win in 2010 and a last-second 6-3 win by Miami in Tampa last season.
"My guys stepped up and made great plays," said Morris, who hadn't topped 223 yards in any of his last five games, but now has eight touchdowns and zero interceptions in his last three games.
USF's only points came on field goals, and even those made Bulls fans furious -- USF allowed 21 seconds to inexplicably run off at the Miami 7 in the final minute without taking any of three time outs, costing the team a shot at the end zone before settling for a field goal and a 16-3 deficit. Then twice in the fourth quarter, trailing by 34 points, Holtz opted for field goals inside the Miami 20, rather than give his young quarterback another shot at his first touchdown pass.
"With all the sophomores and freshmen on this team, I felt it was really important we got some positive out of the last couple of drives," Holtz said. "I felt going for a fourth-and-7 and dragging their tails off the field with no points and a lot of yards to show for it was not the answer. What we were doing in the fourth quarter was building a lot of young players for Cincinnati next week and Pittsburgh the week after that, trying to build confidence in a football team that obviously didn't have a lot of other reason to have it tonight."
The Bulls -- who have lost 11 of their last 13 against BCS conference opponents -- now travel to Cincinnati on Friday, then finish at home against Pittsburgh on Dec. 1, the only remaining consolation being a chance to match last year's 5-7 overall record, or get the second Big East win that last year's Bulls couldn't. Lose again, and they'll be the first USF team to lose eight games in a season.