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 loses to Rutgers, finishes program-worst 2-10

PISCATAWAY, N.J. — They have been neither snake-bitten nor — in Saturday's case — frostbitten. USF can't pin the worst record in program history on poor calls or poor climates.

The Bulls simply are a team in transition, struggling to find the personnel and personal discipline to evolve into the program they wish to be.

On a raw central New Jersey night, in a place where USF wretchedness has gone to roost, the struggles were made vivid.

Again.

A litany of flags and flubs, dearth of running lanes and periodic defensive breakdowns equated to a 31-6 loss to Rutgers before 37,645 at High Point Solutions Stadium.

"We're recruiting guys to come take our current guys' jobs and we're going to continue to do that as well," clearly frustrated Bulls coach Willie Taggart said.

"No position is safe. I'm going to evaluate the entire program and make sure we've got the right pieces in place so we can be a hell of a lot better than what we've shown this year."

Indeed, as the Bulls (2-10, 2-6 American Athletic Conference) thaw out today, few will lobbying to have this season cryogenically frozen for posterity.

In clinching the worst record in the program's 17-year history, the Bulls also eclipsed the season's century mark in penalties.

Saturday, they had 99 penalty yards and 10 rushing yards. As a result, USF ended the year on a six-game skid. The loss was its fourth consecutive defeat at this stadium, where the Bulls aren't likely to return any time soon; Rutgers (6-6, 3-5) is bound for the Big Ten.

The Scarlet Knights became bowl eligible and will find out their bowl destination today. The Associated Press reported that Rutgers would likely play in the Pinstripe Bowl, Dec. 28 at Yankee Stadium against Notre Dame.

Just where the Bulls are headed remains anyone's guess.

What's clear is, they're in dire need of playmakers — which Taggart acknowledged afterward — and self-control.

The absence of the latter was never more clear than in the first quarter, when a microcosm of this excruciating autumn played out.

With USF down 7-0 freshman quarterback Mike White, wearing gloves on both hands, fumbled the exchange from center Austin Reiter. The following play, Scarlet Knights senior Chas Dodd shuffled right and threw to Bulls cornerback Brandon Salinas in the left flat. Salinas returned the interception well past midfield, but senior defensive tackle Luke Sager was whistled for roughing Dodd.

On the next play, Dodd found freshman wide receiver Andre Patton for a 12-yard touchdown and 14-0 Scarlet Knights lead.

"I think that's been our biggest downfall this whole year, just penalties at the wrong time, crucial times during the game," said USF senior linebacker DeDe Lattimore (18 tackles), on the verge of sobs after his college finale.

"Brandon made a great play and we got a penalty."

By halftime, USF had eight penalties and two turnovers. Its only two trips into Rutgers territory during that span ended with short Marvin Kloss field goals.

USF finished with 151 total yards, going without an offensive TD for the sixth contest.

"We've got to fix everything and more important, we've got to fix this offense," said Taggart, who nonetheless insists he won't change his power-run approach. "I don't know what this is. It's not an offense, it's just off."

Meantime, Knights rushing leader Paul James, questionable earlier in the week with a lower leg ailment, gained 113 yards on 26 carries.

James ran 11 times for 51 yards on the game-sealing drive, which he capped with a 1-yard touchdown with 7:24 to go, giving Rutgers a 28-6 lead. By contrast, USF's longest run from scrimmage was a 16-yard scramble by White.

"We've just got to work on executing when there's plays to be executed, and we've got to run the ball, man," USF tight end Mike McFarland said. "We're a power offense."

Question now is, how powerful can they be in 2014?

Joey Knight can be reached at jknight@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3350. Follow him on Twitter at @ TBTimes_Bulls.

USF loses to Rutgers, finishes program-worst 2-10 12/07/13 [Last modified: Sunday, December 8, 2013 12:30am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Rays morning after: An up-and down day for Jose De Leon

    Blogs

    Rays RHP Jose De Leon had a busy Monday - getting called up to join the Rays for the first time and making his way from Pawtucket, R.I., to Boston and the flying to Texas, working 2 2/3 eventful innings to get the W in the 10-8 victory over the Rangers, and then getting optioned back to Triple-A.

    Jose De Leon follows through in the sixth inning against the Texas Rangers at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas, on May 29, 2017.
  2. Tiger Woods says medication, not alcohol, led to DUI arrest in Florida

    Public Safety

    Players arriving for a tournament this week at Muirfield Village might notice a framed picture of Tiger Woods with a resplendent smile and bright red shirt. He's posed there with the trophy, an image that embodies the excitement he once brought to golf.

    This image provided by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office on Monday, May 29, 2017, shows Tiger Woods. Police in Florida say Tiger Woods was been arrested for DUI.  [Palm Beach County Sheriff's office via AP]
  3. Four key games that could decide Bucs' success in 2017

    Blogs

    The Bucs finished so close to making the playoffs in 2016 -- literally flip-flop the last two results and have them beat the Saints and lose to the Panthers and they're in as a wild card with the same 9-7 record -- that it's difficult to say with any certainty what will happen in the 2017 season.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, shown celebrating a touchdown against the Giants in 2015, will face New York again this fall in Week 4 in Tampa.
  4. Frank Deford wrote with sincerity, giving depth to complicated sports figures

    Human Interest

    Frank Deford practically invented the notion of multimedia: He exported his voice to radio, TV and film, and if you didn't know him you might have thought he was an actor, because he wore purple suits and looked like Clark Gable. But Frank, who died Sunday at age 78, was a writer above all things, and an important …

    In a 1991 photo, Frank Deford holds a proof of The National Sports Daily, of which he was editor and publisher [Associated Press]
  5. Clarity coming this week on Florida Gators, Malik Zaire

    Blogs

    After months of speculation, we could finally get some clarity this week on the Florida Gators and graduate transfer quarterback Malik Zaire.

    SEC flags outside the hotel of last year's spring meetings in Destin. This year's meetings could have a huge impact on the Florida Gators' season.