MIAMI — Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham started to rattle off the names, and soon, it was apparent that nearly half his starting defense had been sidelined by injury during USF's 17-9 win Saturday at Florida International.
"It was very discouraging. We were trying to figure out who we had," Burnham said. "We were lining them up on the bench, saying 'Now it's your turn.' It got pretty bad."
LB Brouce Mompremier, airlifted to a hospital as a precaution after suffering a neck injury in the third quarter, was obviously the most severely hurt, but four other key starters watched much of the game from the sideline.
•S Carlton Williams got a hip pointer on the play in which Mompremier was injured — Mompremier's helmet hit his hip — and said he hoped to play but expected to be hurting today.
•DE George Selvie, who had a sack and two tackles for loss, had his right ankle iced as he walked off the field after the game, but he said he'll be fine for next weekend's game at N.C. State.
•DT Terrell McClain sprained an ankle on a fourth-and-1 play but said he, too, should be able to play.
•CB Tyller Roberts went down with an ankle injury, pressing redshirt freshman Quenton Washington into significant action. Roberts was able to return for some work as a nickel defensive back.
THEY'RE BACK: RBs Mike Ford and Ben Williams, limited by ankle injuries since the opener, returned to regular action, though neither was back to their usual level of play.
Ford had both of USF's touchdowns but finished with just 24 yards on 14 carries, none longer than 6 yards. Williams had only one carry for no gain and caught one pass for 20 yards.
Sophomore Jamar Taylor, who got the start, sparked the Bulls in the second half as he did last week, rushing for 51 yards on six carries on one drive. The rest of USF's offense for the entire half was 51 yards.
GRAND OPENING: The opening of FIU Stadium was announced as having 16,717 fans in an 18,000-seat arena, but the stadium was less than half that in the closing moments as the Panthers rallied to cut USF's lead to eight points.
FIU decided not to sell single-game tickets for the game, making tickets available only through season tickets. The Panthers averaged 7,982 fans in five home games last year.
THIS AND THAT: Sophomore WR Dontavia Bogan made his first career start and gained 20 yards on a reverse ... TE Trent Pupello, a Jefferson graduate, had his first career catch, a 14-yarder in the first quarter. ... Starting DE Jarriett Buie, held without a tackle in the first three games, got 1.5, including one for a loss.
Greg Auman can be reached at email@example.com and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf.