Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

South Florida Bulls: Seniors seek final turnaround

TAMPA — They have distinguished themselves for four years, though the talk this month has been overwhelmingly of their current four losses.

Twenty-one seniors will be honored tonight as they play their final home game for USF against Connecticut, and there's a real urgency to stop a three-game skid and give those seniors a better memory of their last time at Raymond James Stadium.

"We need to go out and play well for them," said junior quarterback Matt Grothe, who was limited in practice last week by a sprained ankle. "I know they'll come out ready to play, because it's their last time. I know we'll be fired up. We just have to stay away from some of the stuff we haven't been able to stay away from the last couple of weeks."

That stuff to stay away from includes turnovers — six in last week's 49-16 loss to Rutgers — and an inability to stop opposing offenses, especially late in games. USF has been outscored in the fourth quarter seven times this year, including a 21-0 combined margin in the past two losses.

Some seniors honored tonight, such as safety Danny Verpaele and linebacker Brouce Mompremier, have been missing from that defense the past two games because of injuries. Mompremier said he has felt his teammates' frustration from the sideline, but was surprised to see a lack of fight late in the loss to Rutgers.

"I can almost pinpoint the moment when guys just started to lay down," Mompremier said. "I feel like some guys kind of gave up. I'm not sure why. I'm guessing it's just frustration, things not going right. You've got guys going 100 miles an hour, just doing everything they can and not seeing any results."

Playing their final home game should bring more emotion from USF's seniors, who are bunched at key positions on the field. The offensive line has four senior starters — tackles Ryan Schmidt and Marc Dile, guard Matt Huners and center Jake Griffin — and might have to block for another senior, backup quarterback Grant Gregory, who would step in if Grothe cannot play.

Whether it's Grothe or Gregory, the Bulls need a mobile quarterback against the Huskies. Two years ago, Grothe rushed for three touchdowns in a 38-16 win in Tampa, and in last year's 22-15 loss Grothe rushed for a career-high 146 yards and the Bulls' only touchdown.

The defense has its share of senior starters: linebacker Tyrone McKenzie, safeties Carlton Williams and Louis Gachette and end Jarriett Buie. Plus junior George Selvie, an All-American last season projected as a potential first-round NFL draft pick, could also be playing his final home game.

A win would assure the seniors — and all the Bulls — of the right to play a fourth bowl in as many years. USF is bowl-eligible with six wins, but a loss tonight and one in two weeks at West Virginia could leave the Bulls without a Big East-affiliated bowl. That could lead to an obscure bowl berth as an at-large team, or perhaps ending with nothing but a five-game losing streak.

"We just want to win. We want to go out and win a game," Grothe said. "It's been a few weeks since we have. We need one more win to go to a bowl. We will worry about West Virginia when West Virginia comes. This week we are just worried about getting that one more win to get us over the hump. We need to get out of the hole."

South Florida Bulls: Seniors seek final turnaround 11/22/08 [Last modified: Saturday, November 22, 2008 9:36pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Harmeling first woman to receive lifetime honor at Sneaker Soiree in Tampa

    Human Interest

    TAMPA — For the last quarter-century, she has combined passion and meticulousness to keep the Gasparilla Distance Classic humming and evolving. Indefatigable and detailed, Susan Harmeling braces for every race-weekend contingency.

    Susan Harmeling gives a speech after accepting an award  during the annual Sneaker Soiree, at TPepin's Hospitality Centre, Thursday, June 22, 2017.
  2. Rowdies shut out at Pittsburgh


    PITTSBURGH — The Rowdies lost their first USL game in nearly a month, 1-0 to Pittsburgh on Thursday night.

  3. LSU's Paul Mainieri defends FSU's Mike Martin; Gators play Friday


    OMAHA, Neb. — LSU coach Paul Mainieri says whether Florida State's Mike Martin ever wins a national championship should have no bearing on how his long career in college baseball is judged.

    MADE IT: Josh Watson beats the tag of Louisville catcher Colby Fitch during TCU’s 4-3 win in the College World Series.
  4. Lightning fans, don't get attached to your first-round draft picks

    Lightning Strikes

    CHICAGO — When Lightning GM Steve Yzerman announces his first-round pick tonight in the amateur draft at No. 14, he'll invite the prospect onto the stage for the once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunity.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) eludes  Montreal Canadiens left wing Phillip Danault (24) during the second period of Wednesday???‚??„?s (12/28/16) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Montreal Canadiens at the Amalie Arena in Tampa.