TAMPA — On a day when QB B.J. Daniels piled up 445 yards to get the offense back on track, USF coach Jim Leavitt was most impressed by a single play from senior TE Ben Busbee.
With six minutes left and USF clinging to 27-22 lead against Louisville, Daniels scrambled from the 30-yard line, then found Busbee across the middle near the goal line. Busbee bobbled the ball, and as he turned upfield, he was leveled by Louisville CB Chaz Thompson.
"Busbee's catch is as good as you're going to see. Extraordinary," Leavitt said.
Busbee held onto the ball until he hit the ground — WR Evan Landi picked the loose ball off his chest and took a single step into the end zone, with one official signaling for a touchdown. Busbee was ruled down at the 2, and two plays later, USF had a safe 12-point cushion, and Leavitt had a model for how everyone on the Bulls' offense had to step up.
"I'm a little bit dazed right now, actually," Busbee said. "That was a pretty good shot I took."
Because of a shoulder injury from the previous game, Busbee was limited to passing downs, but Leavitt was impressed by the toughness he showed in suiting up.
"For him to go out there, that's the most courageous thing I've seen Ben do in his whole career," Leavitt said. "That (catch) was really special. He'll remember that the rest of his life."
FRUSTRATIONS: Louisville took the lead in the second quarter when Trent Guy took Delbert Alvarado's punt 60 yards for a touchdown, and Leavitt wasn't at all pleased with what has been a familiar problem.
"I was really disappointed with that," Leavitt said. "The punt was awful. The coverage was awful. Everything was awful."
After a fourth-down stop seemed to seal the game with three minutes left, USF couldn't run out the clock, with RB Mo Plancher fumbling on the first play after a 19-yard gain.
"Them having to come out after Mo dropped the ball, there's no excuse for Mo dropping that ball. None," Leavitt said.
THIN AT DT: USF got so thin at defensive tackle in the second quarter that Leavitt turned to freshman Anthony Hill, who was redshirting and made his season debut in the 10th game of the season.
The Bulls played without junior Leslie Stirrups (elbow) and when starter Terrell McClain injured his neck, he turned to Hill, a Pensacola native who joined the Bulls in January.
"He's one of the freshmen we didn't want to play, wanted to redshirt, but obviously we couldn't," Leavitt said. "We felt this was too important."
THIS AND THAT: Injured senior QB Matt Grothe walked to midfield for the pregame coin toss, and wore a No. 10 jersey in tribute to former Bulls RB Keeley Dorsey, who died during a conditioning workout in 2007. … S Nate Allen had his fourth interception of the season. … Two-time All-American DE George Selvie was not credited with a tackle, but could wind up with a share of a sack officially credited to T Aaron Harris. … Josh Chichester, Louisville's 6-foot-8 receiver, was held to 40 yards on four catches. Leavitt said he had 6-6 DE Jason Pierre-Paul run routes in practice to prepare the defense for the tall target.