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)

Special teams doom USF Bulls in loss to Louisville Cardinals

TAMPA — There were so many special teams mistakes that collaborated to scuttle the Bulls' hopes of a sixth win — a muffed punt return leading to Louisville's first points, a 52-yard kickoff return leading to the Cardinals' first touchdown — but the signature moment Friday was a penalty that cost the Bulls 39 yards in field position in the fourth quarter of a close game.

"We're making some foolish blunders that you can't make and win," coach Skip Holtz said. "Our special teams really was poor, and that's a reflection on us as coaches."

Justin Brockhaus-Kann continued to struggle, with punts of 26 and 17 yards on his last two attempts. Holtz finally made a change, bringing in K Maikon Bonani for a rugby-style punt from the USF 16. The line-drive kick kept bouncing clear to the Louisville 12, and its 72 yards would have matched the school record for longest punt … had it not been negated by penalty.

Senior long snapper Mike Walsh was flagged for a personal foul, forcing a rekick. With the novelty spoiled, Holtz went back to Brockhaus-Kann, whose punt was returned to the USF 49, a costly loss in the field-position battle.

"We had an 80-yard kick by Bonani, who did an unbelievable job, and we had a guy hit another guy in the back just running down the field, just a foolish mistake that takes away about 40 yards of field position in a football game," Holtz said.

MISSING: QB B.J. Daniels wasn't the only key contributor out with an injury — starting CB Kayvon Webster (concussion) missed the game, pressing junior George Baker into a starting role after totaling 10 tackles in the first 10 games. Most costly was leaving Louisville WR DeVante Parker uncovered in the end zone on the Cards' go-ahead touchdown.

"You've got a young corner in there. … George Baker played more reps than he has all year," Holtz said. "I'm certainly not throwing him under the bus, but a young, inexperienced guy, and it's three-deep (zone) and he jumps up on the out cut and leaves the corner route right open behind him. They weren't hard reads, I promise you. We made it easy, made it easier than it should be. … We weren't very good in the secondary."

CHANGE OF PLAN: USF's first touchdown came as a surprise, with the Bulls going for it on fourth and 3 and QB Bobby Eveld hitting WR Lindsey Lamar for a 35-yard touchdown. But initially, Holtz opted to punt, showing a lack of confidence in both his offense and his kicker, However, Louisville was so surprised, it didn't have a punt unit on the field and had to call timeout. Given a moment to rethink, Holtz sent his offense out and went for it on fourth down.

THIS AND THAT: Walsh's personal foul was one of just three penalties for 18 yards for USF, matching the season low in a game for penalties and resetting the low for yards by 22. … Eveld was 20-for-35 for 210 yards, resetting his career high. He had 195 last year in his only other start, a loss against UConn. … With short kicks that left little room for returns, the Bulls had allowed minus-2 yards on punt returns all season, putting them on pace for the NCAA season record. Louisville had 5 yards on one return. The Bulls are now 1 yard behind the mark of 2, set by Miami in 1989. … Demetris Murray's touchdown pass made him the first non-QB to throw a TD for USF since Amarri Jackson in 2005, also against Louisville.

Special teams doom USF Bulls in loss to Louisville Cardinals 11/25/11 [Last modified: Friday, November 25, 2011 8:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2015 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours