EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — USF's loss to Miami could still be felt a week later, and the Bulls had to turn to four first-time starters in their regular-season finale at Connecticut.
The biggest absence was senior middle linebacker Kion Wilson, who missed the game with an ankle injury and was replaced by true freshman Sam Barrington, who made his first career start.
USF had another linebacker make his first career start as junior Jacquian Williams, a Riverview graduate, started in place of junior Sabbath Joseph, who was limited by illness this week.
Sophomore strong safety Jerrell Young sat out with an ankle injury, with redshirt freshman Jon Lejiste getting his first career start. And on offense, C Sampson Genus, limited in practice by an ankle injury, was held out in favor of sophomore Kevin McCaskill.
RECORD BOOK: After missing three games and being limited last week by a high ankle sprain, junior receiver Carlton Mitchell had two catches for 18 yards in the first half, enough to tie him with Hugh Smith (1999-2002) for first place on USF's career receiving list with 1,523 yards. Mitchell caught an 11-yard pass in the fourth quarter to move into first place on the list.
Smith's single-season mark of 661 yards, set in 2002, is also within Mitchell's reach. He entered Saturday's game with 563 yards, so he could catch Smith in USF's bowl game.
FORD IS BACK: With senior Mo Plancher losing a fumble early, the Bulls turned to junior Mike Ford, who got his most extensive action of the season.
Ford had 12 carries for 48 yards in the first half, including a 14-yard touchdown. In the previous six games, he had totaled 58 yards on 26 carries.
NICE WEATHER: Saturday was the third-coldest game in USF history, and just the second played with snow falling, joining last year's regular-season finale at West Virginia. The temperature at kickoff was 34 degrees, the fourth time the Bulls have played below 40 degrees.
THIS AND THAT: Senior WR Jessie Hester, who wore No. 10 as a tribute to the late RB Keeley Dorsey, had a 36-yard reception, the longest of his Bulls career. The catch also moved him into fourth on USF's career receptions list, passing Charlie Jackson (104).