TAMPA — More than 17 years after toiling in anonymity, USF's original Bulls got a little adoration Saturday.
Eleven of the 14 players who joined Jim Leavitt's fledgling program in 1996 — the year before USF began playing games — were honored on the field in the first half. Most remained until their final season of eligibility, in 2000. USF finished 27-17 in that span.
"It felt like Jim Leavitt used to say, unbelievable," said former OL Joe Sipp, who arrived at USF from Hillsborough High.
"It was a thrill to see my old teammates and to be on that field again. It was truly an honor to be part of such great history. Seeing all those guys brought back many great memories."
GROTHE TAKES A KNEE: Without question, the most cheered move by a Bulls quarterback all day occurred midway through the first half. As a camera captured the moment for the Raymond James Stadium videoboard, Bulls all-time passing leader Matt Grothe proposed to girlfriend Alyssa Ashley on the sideline. She said yes.
SHAW RETURN? Despite a return to practice last week, TB Marcus Shaw (hamstring) never was seriously considered for action Saturday, coach Willie Taggart said.
He could, however, be available for Thursday night's nationally televised game at Houston. With Shaw in sweatpants, USF's two other backs, Darius Tice and Willie Davis, combined for 55 yards on 15 carries. Injured junior Michael Pierre didn't play.
"(Shaw) ran around last week," Taggart said. "But it wasn't to the point where he can go and just play a game."
MARVIN IS MONEY: Senior PK Marvin Kloss, by far the Bulls' steadiest offensive force, connected on his 10th consecutive field goal, a 50-yarder in the first quarter.
Kloss now is 3-for-3 for his career on field goals of 50 or more yards, establishing a school record. Bill Gramatica had two from that distance.
ODDS AND ENDS: WR Andre Davis had one reception, extending his school record of games with at least one to 25. Davis now has 1,093 receiving yards, 10th in school history. … Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater now has thrown at least one touchdown pass in 20 consecutive games. … With QB Mike White's fourth-quarter appearance, USF now has played nine true freshmen this year (six on defense). … DT Luke Sager recorded a tackle for loss for the fourth consecutive game.
Joey Knight can be reached at email@example.com.