MIAMI — Adding a sting to USF's 40-9 loss to Miami, the Hurricanes' leading tackler, with seven tackles and a key interception, was S Rayshawn Jenkins, a freshman from Admiral Farragut who signed with Miami in February after backing out of a commitment to play for the Bulls.
Jenkins, who had just four tackles in Miami's first eight games, has emerged as a playmaker in the past three games, with four tackles in a win against Virginia Tech and eight in a last-minute loss to Virginia.
Saturday marked his first start, and the interception — at the 1-yard line on a deep pass by USF QB Matt Floyd — was the first of his young career.
Jenkins wasn't the only Tampa-area Hurricane to make plays against the Bulls — DE Anthony Chickillo of Alonso High blocked a field goal in the first quarter and finished with three tackles. Plant's Antonio Crawford also had three tackles as a reserve defensive back.
MOVING FORWARD: Floyd struggled early, throwing two interceptions in his first six attempts after relieving injured starter Bobby Eveld, but he settled down, finishing 20-of-35 for 175 yards, two completions short of a season high for the Bulls.
"We didn't play the way we should have played, but Miami's a great team," Floyd said. "I think this is a game we can build off of, learn some things from mistakes. … There are things I could have done a lot better, some reads I could have made better and some throws, but overall, I feel it was a pretty good performance."
SPECIAL PROBLEMS: Special-teams issues persist for the Bulls, who missed one field goal, had another blocked, and saw punt returner Terrence Mitchell muff another return to set up Miami in USF territory. The kickoff return unit didn't make wise decisions, starting first-half drives at the 14, 17 and 15 after short returns. Senior K Maikon Bonani connected on three field goals, but Miami's Jake Wieclaw hit four.
THIS AND THAT: Top Bulls WR Andre Davis was held in check, getting his only catch in the fourth quarter, a 4-yard gain. … USF had just one takeaway, on a play where S JaQuez Jenkins hit Miami RB Duke Johnson as he dived for the pylon, fumbling through the end zone for a touchback. … After being sidelined since the Louisville loss, senior Mark Popek returned to the offensive line, this time as starting left tackle. Senior RG Danous Estenor returned as well after missing a game with an ankle injury. … Senior LB Sam Barrington started after serving a one-game suspension. He led the team with seven tackles. Junior DE Ryne Giddins (Armwood) had a sack, his first since USF's opener … Walk-on Jordan Duval, a Hillsborough graduate who has zero catches in his USF career, started at receiver. … Miami, like USF, has seen attendance suffer through a disappointing season. Saturday's crowd was announced as 38,869, but the actual attendance was significantly lower.
Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @GregAuman.