USF-Towson notebook: Valdes-Scantling shines in debut
He entered his first college game in more than 20 months riding a wave of anticipation, and exited it on a cart.
"I was cramping up, nothing major," Marquez Valdes-Scantling said with a chuckle.
Ultimately, the humidity and duration (more than 3 1/2 hours) of Saturday's proceedings got the better of the N.C. State transfer. The moment did not.
In a Bulls debut nothing short of sparkling, the former Lakewood High star had 79 yards on three catches, highlighted by a 51-yard TD strike from Quinton Flowers.
"It was exhilarating," he said.
"Coach (Willie Taggart) just kind of wanted to take a shot, wanted to single me up on the back side and see if we get the coverage we wanted and we did. He told Q to throw it and he made a play."
A scout-team legend of sorts last season, Valdes-Scantling hadn't appeared in a college game since the 2014 Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl, when the Wolfpack defeated UCF. His TD catch also was the longest reception of his career -- by 9 yards.
"Just having the speed and the ability to do things he does, I just gave him a chance and he just got up under it and he made a great catch," Flowers said.
WORTH THE WAIT: Fifth-year senior WR Alex Mut had seen practically everything except the ball in his hands entering Saturday's game.
But Mut, one of three remaining Bulls holdovers from the Skip Holtz era, finally got that long-awaited catch in the second half. Mut hauled in a pass from backup QB Brett Kean before being dropped behind the line of scrimmage for a 2-yard loss.
It was cool 'cause he asked for it," Taggart said. "He was like, 'Coach man, let me get my first catch.' It was unfortunate they brought like 18 guys off the edge on that blitz to get him; I hate that for him.
"But Mut's a great young man. He's one of those guys who's gonna be where he's supposed to be when he needs to be there, and he'll make a play for you."
COMING AROUND: Saturday's announced attendance (35,976) eclipsed the one for the 2015 season opener -- a 51-3 rout of FAMU -- by more than 5,000. The north end zone -- USF's student section -- appeared filled to near capacity.
"I loved the student section," Taggart said. "And we're getting better overall.
"Again, it's part of the whole process just like with our team: We get better and everybody else will get better, and eventually we'll fill up RayJay. I've seen it filled before and we're gonna work to fill it up again, but I'm really, really happy with the people that were there today. They were nice and loud, the way we wanted in there."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls now are 19-1 in home openers. ... USF needed only 10 plays and 2:22 combined in its first four touchdown drives. ... TB Marlon Mack's streak of consecutive 100-yard games ended at five. Still, Mack (nine carries, 58 yards, one TD) has totaled 464 rushing yards in three season openers. ... QB Quinton Flowers has accounted for nine total TDs in his last two regular season games, including four against Towson. ... New P Jonathan Hernandez averaged 38.5 yards on four attempts.
AUDIBLE: "What do you think about that? Wait 'til you see him hit somebody, you'll really like that. He's a really good football player. He's mean and he loves contact, so we try to put him in places where he can hit somebody." -- Taggart on lining up MLB Cecil Cherry at fullback Saturday