TAMPA — The final play in USF's 27-10 loss to Cincinnati on Friday saw players having to be separated by officials after a Bulls defensive player was taken to the ground along the Bearcats sideline.
One official was knocked down trying to separate the teams.
Bulls coaches said they didn't see enough to know who instigated the scuffle but would check the footage.
"It's an emotional game. I certainly don't condone (what happened)," USF coach Skip Holtz said.
"I'm anxious to see what happened at the end. I asked the official at the end, 'Can you tell me what happened over there?' And he said just a lot of pushing and shoving. I really could not tell instigators or what happened."
Cincinnati ran plays with backups rather than taking a knee at the end. The scuffle started away from the ball, with a USF player on his back on the Cincinnati sideline. The teams had been separated on previous occasions late in the game.
"You don't want that in football," USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said.
HURTING: Holtz said he was concerned about sophomore WR Terrence Mitchell, who had concussion symptoms and memory loss after helmet-to-helmet contact with a Cincinnati player as he tried to make a block. Mitchell, a Hillsborough High graduate who took a medical redshirt last year after missing most of the season with a concussion, stayed on the field for several minutes before being helped off. He likely will sit out next week's finale against Pittsburgh.
"I am concerned about Terrence Mitchell's welfare," Holtz said.
ONE FLAG: One bright spot for USF was a lack of penalties. It had one flag for 5 yards, an all-time low for the program in both categories. USF had drawn two penalties twice, against East Carolina in 2003 and Drake in 1997, and had a previous low of 15 yards in that East Carolina game.
BIG KICK: Senior P Justin Brockhaus-Kann had a busy first half with six punts, including a 70-yarder that was a career long and the second longest in USF history. The kick bounced and rolled from the USF 11-yard line to the Cincinnati 19. The only USF punt longer was a 72-yarder by Devin Sanderson in a 42-3 loss at Arkansas in 2002.
NOT SO GOOD: Cincinnati had four punts in the first half, allowing USF to try Andre Davis in a second stint as returner. Mitchell has fumbled or muffed four punts this season, losing three of the loose balls.
Davis let Cincinnati's first punt go over his head, and that went for 65 yards, after USF had punted from the Cincinnati 40 for a touchback. Between the punts, Cincinnati picked up 45 net yards. Davis finished the first half with minus-2 yards on his returns, then slipped and fell on his first return of the third quarter.
FIRST STARTS: Hoping to improve a pass defense that has been a consistent weak spot, the Bulls gave redshirt freshman CB Kenneth Durden his first career start in place of senior George Baker, who started the first 10 games. USF also made a change at left tackle, starting junior Lawrence Martin, who had played sparingly all season. Senior Mark Popek was sidelined by a lingering ankle injury after returning last week.