TAMPA — The momentary spark provided by the insertion of QB Steven Bench soon was doused by a particularly futile red-zone possession early in the second quarter of Saturday night's loss to Florida Atlantic.
With USF leading 10-7, TB Marcus Shaw took a Bench handoff near midfield and gave USF first and goal with a 41-yard run. His 6-yard run on first down set up three shots at the end zone from the 2.
He then gained 1 on second down, none on third, and was driven backward for a 6-yard loss on a fourth-down toss sweep.
"They just came through," said Shaw, whose 153 rushing yards were the most by a Bull since Mike Ford's 207 in the 2010 International Bowl. "FAU has a good defense."
"It was huge," coach Willie Taggart added. "I thought it would've been big for us just to get in there and try to establish some kind of identity. … Again, our offense this entire year so far just hasn't stepped up when we had opportunities."
SMALL CONSOLATION: For a program aching for every positive stride it can muster, DeDe Lattimore provided a major one Saturday night.
Lattimore's first-quarter interception of a batted Jaquez Johnson pass was the Bulls' second of the season, matching USF's total for all of 2012. In 40 career games, Lattimore has two picks. His first occurred in 2011 at Notre Dame.
HE SAID, HE SAID: After logging the most significant action (8-for-22, 134 yards, one TD, one INT, two sacks) of his college career, Bench, a sophomore Penn State transfer, said he feels he has a complete grasp of Taggart's playbook to this point.
Taggart begged to differ. "I'm sure he would say that. I think any quarterback would say that," the coach said. "He doesn't, not like we need him to. If he did, we wouldn't have taken some of the sacks that we did tonight."
KLOSS JOINS CLUB: Senior K Marvin Kloss' 50-yard field goal in the first quarter — the longest of his career — was only the sixth of 50 yards or more in program history. Five players have accounted for those six.
ODDS AND ENDS: Gov. Rick Scott made a pregame cameo on the sideline. … Pasco High alumnus Hakeeme Ishmar, an FAU junior, made the tackle on the opening kickoff. … Two Jesuit High alumni — OG Ike Edwards and specialist Reggie Brown — started for FAU. Brown had three kick returns totaling 83 yards. … After fielding two punts inside his 10 last weekend at Michigan State, Bulls PR Kenneth Durden had an uneventful evening Saturday. He fielded two first-half punts at his 22 and 12, and had a nifty third-quarter return near midfield wiped out by an illegal block.