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Kicking game a concern for USF

USF’s Grant Gregory, left, consoles Delbert Alvarado after Alvarado hooked a 42-yard field goal that could have beaten UCF in regulation. The Bulls also struggled in other special teams areas.

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

USF’s Grant Gregory, left, consoles Delbert Alvarado after Alvarado hooked a 42-yard field goal that could have beaten UCF in regulation. The Bulls also struggled in other special teams areas.

ORLANDO — A 25-yard touchdown pass and defensive stop in overtime gave USF a 31-24 victory over Central Florida on Saturday, but it also pardoned a decision that saw the Bulls take a penalty before their missed field goal at the end of regulation.

After UCF tied it at 24 with 1:40 to play, QB Matt Grothe guided the Bulls from their 26 to the UCF 20-yard line, covering 54 yards in 10 plays in 80 seconds.

On second and 10 at the 20 with a timeout and 15 seconds left, USF lined up for a 37-yard field goal from the left side of the field but the game clock expired, a 5-yard penalty. Then Delbert Alvarado, who converted a 20-yarder but had a 46-yarder blocked in the third quarter, hooked his 42-yard kick just left. Coach Jim Leavitt said not having the kicking team ready for the initial kick was his fault.

"You can put that on me," he said. "I thought we had more time there to get those guys lined up. I can't fault anybody else for that. There's no excuse there. There really isn't."

Leavitt seemed unfazed on the sideline.

"When it got back to the 25, I knew it wouldn't be a distance thing with Delbert, so it made it better for the angle, so it didn't bother me," Leavitt said. "I can't say I did that on purpose. I didn't. He just didn't hit the ball. We've got to find somebody that can hit the ball."

Alvarado, a junior out of Robinson High who missed a week of practice in August with a groin injury, missed his only attempt Aug. 30 against Tennessee-Martin from 46 yards. Add a block and a miss Saturday, and Leavitt will take a long look this week at other options, such as freshman Maikon Bonani of Lake Wales.

In giving up a 91-yard kickoff return for a touchdown and two long punt returns from UCF's Joe Burnett, Leavitt had all kinds of special teams issues. One week after totaling a Big East-record 226 yards in punt returns, USF totaled minus-2 off nine punts.

"We have to do something with our kickoff team. I am incredibly disappointed with that," Leavitt said. "I am terribly disappointed with our punt team and punt coverage. I am very disappointed in our field-goal team and yes, I have to look at different things there.

"We have to try something different and get something squared away."

INJURIES: Mike Ford sat out with an ankle injury, and fellow RB Ben Williams was limited to one carry with an ankle injury. The No. 19 Bulls (2-0) hope to have both healthy Friday when they host No. 13 Kansas (2-0), along with TE Trent Pupello, who played sparingly against UCF due to an ankle injury.

Kicking game a concern for USF 09/07/08 [Last modified: Thursday, September 11, 2008 2:19pm]
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