Make us your home page
Instagram

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

(View our Privacy Policy)

USF Bulls routed in loss to No. 20 Pittsburgh Panthers

PITTSBURGH — Had it been remotely close, a second consecutive loss to another ranked opponent might not have been that demoralizing for USF, even after the Bulls' 5-0 start and another promising national ranking.

But the way the Bulls were dominated on Saturday, struggling all over the field in a 41-14 loss to No. 20 Pittsburgh, was downright deflating for USF and its fans in a way few individual games can be.

"They just whupped us. They were a much better team than us today," said coach Jim Leavitt, whose team has a short week before facing another ranked opponent, No. 23 West Virginia, on Friday. "We'll see what our team is all about. If they continue to play like this, we won't be successful this year. If they change, we have a chance."

USF (5-2, 1-2 Big East) came in as touchdown underdogs, but Pittsburgh made it clear by halftime it wouldn't be that close. Pitt scored on all five first-half possessions for a 31-7 halftime lead, with the Panthers' first nine drives all gaining at least 40 yards. USF, by comparison, gained 40 yards on just one of its 11 possessions.

On a day where the Panthers (7-1, 4-0) matched their best start since 1982, the Bulls made quarterback Bill Stull look like Dan Marino. Stull completed his first 11 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns, deftly converting six of seven third downs against a defense that had been the nation's toughest on third downs just two weeks earlier. Freshman running back Dion Lewis ran for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

"We've been so good at third downs this year," defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. "We just didn't play well today, period, end. You just can't let the ball go over your head like that and expect to win a football game. They had too many big plays today. … It really, really hurts a lot. This is tough."

USF's offense gained just 212 yards, its lowest total in more than four years, since totaling 174 in a 2005 loss at Miami. Pitt didn't blitz and kept defenders back in pass coverage, and freshman quarterback B.J. Daniels couldn't find enough openings to attempt passes. He threw only eight and completed four for 54 yards, while scrambling for a team-high 50 yards.

"When you're out of rhythm, you're out of rhythm," offensive coordinator Mike Canales said. "We've got to get him more reps in game situations. It's going to be a trying time, like a young kid. I'm sure it was very much like this with Matt (Grothe). … The more he sees it, the better he'll get. It's the growing pains we may be going through with B.J."

Daniels, who later threw two interceptions, hit freshman Sterling Griffin for a 41-yard gain. That set up Mike Ford's 3-yard touchdown, which cut Pittsburgh's lead to 14-7 in the second quarter. But Pitt scored on its next three drives, while the Bulls went three and out twice, leaving them down 31-7 at halftime.

"Our defensive backs and secondary, we had big letdowns, almost every single time. I don't recall them punting a single time," said linebacker Kion Wilson, who had a game-high 14 tackles. "We just can't allow that."

The Bulls needed a touchdown with 10 seconds left, from backup quarterback Evan Landi, to avoid their most lopsided conference loss in five years of Big East play — Rutgers beat USF by 33 last season.

Leavitt said he was "kind of surprised" by the outcome, such that the biggest question was which side of the ball disappointed him more.

"You want to play defense," he said. "We've played really poor defense since the second half of the Cincinnati game. … We haven't played defense, and if we're not going to play defense, we're not going to win. That's the first thing we have to get squared away."

Greg Auman can be reached at [email protected] and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at blogs.tampabay.com/usf and follow him at Twitter.com/gregauman.

No. 20 Pitt 41

USF 14

USF Bulls routed in loss to No. 20 Pittsburgh Panthers 10/24/09 [Last modified: Saturday, October 24, 2009 8:50pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Charlie Strong, Gulf High and the best (old) Jon Gruden-Tennessee rumor

    Blogs

    As Butch Jones keeps losing, Tennessee Vols fans are turning to one of the media's favorite pastimes.

    Jon Gruden coaching rumors.

  2. Lightning edges Red Wings on road

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — The digs were different, the Lightning seeing the masterfully-done new Little Caesar's Arena for the first time.

    Lightning center/Red Wings’ killer Tyler Johnson gets past defenseman Trevor Daley on his way to the first goal of the game.
  3. Armwood pulls away to defeat Plant 27-7, remain undefeated

    Footballpreps

    SEFFNER — First-year Armwood coach Evan Davis pulled out all the stops to get his team psyched for Monday's annual grudge match against Plant.

    Armwood defensive end Malcolm Lamar (97) gets fired up before the start of the game between Plant High School Panthers and the Armwood High School Hawks in Suffer, Fla. on Monday, Oct. 16, 2017.
  4. Bucs journal: Dirk Koetter says Vernon Hargreaves needs to improve

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs now rank 31st in the NFL in pass defense, allowing 301 yards per game in their 2-3 start, and coach Dirk Koetter was asked Monday how concerned he is with the play of second-year CB Vernon Hargreaves.

    Ryan Fitzpatrick, throwing an incompletion under pressure after replacing injured Jameis Winston against the Cardinals,  would start this Sunday in Buffalo if Winston’s shoulder is still bothering him.
  5. Backhand shot makes Nikita Kucherov's offense even more dangerous

    Lightning Strikes

    DETROIT — Nikita Kucherov is on a historic streak, just the fourth player in the past 30 years to score a goal in each of his first six games.

    Nikita Kucherov’s backhand shot adds to his strong scoring.