USF-Louisville: A few thoughts ...
I'm home from Ray-Jay and Saturday's wild 55-17 win against Louisville. I'm driving to Daytona and likely back for Sunday night's USF-FSU men's basketball game, so I'm capping this at 15 minutes so I can get some sleep. Quick thoughts then ...
-- You think things started going bad for Louisville on the opening kickoff? Back up a few minutes. While USF is starting to introduce its seniors, with parents lined up across the field, Louisville runs out their players, an action that draws boos from the home fans when you're not interrupting something special. Then, the Cardinals mascot runs directly in front of 40 yards of parents; assistant AD Ayo Taylor-Dixon showed considerable restraint by not doing anything to the bird at midfield. Just struck me as amazingly disrespectful, and I imagine the players picked up on that, too.
-- I'm all for playing to the final buzzer, but c'mon, Louisville. Down 38 points, they call a time out with 12 seconds left. Then they call another with three ticks left. I understand you want to give next year's quarterback real-game experience, but have some awareness of the context, no? Another sign how far the Bulls have come in the last few weeks: Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe running out to the hash marks and losing his top questioning a call; when Jim Leavitt is the cool, calm, collected one, you know the other guy can't be having a good day. Leavitt, in all fairness, has been noticeably more low-key on the sidelines in the last three games.
-- These two dominating wins only add to the frustration for players and coaches, thinking about what could have been without those three straight losses. Forget about getting three back: how about USF just getting a win against UConn? Do just that, keep the Rutgers and Cincy losses, and if everything else stays the same and Connecticut beats West Virginia when they play, the Bulls win the Big East by beating Pittsburgh. It's that simple. Three teams would be 5-2, and USF would have beaten them both. If I'm a USF football player, it's hard to think about how close to a title that is, so I'd be pulling for West Virginia to win that game.
-- Just to sum up Brian Brohm: a career-high three interceptions, a season-low 213 passing yards, and the only game this season in which he failed to complete at least half his passes. And don't forget the run defense: Louisville had 41 rushing yards after three quarters, then got 89 in the final quarter, largely against Bulls reserves.
-- Can't say enough about USF's receivers in the last two games. Almost zero drops, great downfield blocking, with everybody chipping in. Jason Sherman had his first catch, a nice one; Courtney Denson caught one across the middle, and even A.J. Love's fumble was recovered in the end zone by Dontavia Bogan, who made another highlight-reel grab. Perhaps the most improved position since the losses.
-- Injuries, since I wasn't able to get much in the paper: Cedric Hill was in streetclothes in the second half after "tweaking his neck," which shouldn't result in any missed action. Carlton Williams, who already had his bell rung once a few weeks back, suffered a concussion, but should be able to play at Pittsburgh. Justin Teachey didn't handle kickoffs after pulling a muscle in his kicking leg, but look for Jim Leavitt to push for him to get back out there -- Delbert Alvarado doesn't have the same distance on kickoffs and is already handling punting and place-kicking.
-- For all the excitement tonight for USF fans, if Rutgers beats Louisville next week, the Big East will have only five bowl-eligible teams, and USF will have lost to three of the other four.
-- Louisiana-Monroe? Louisiana-Monroe? I wonder how many of their defensive starters could have played at Miami or Florida State, under any circumstances ...