TAMPA — USF senior TE Lawrence Martin said he takes full responsibility for a fumble at the goal line that cost the Bulls a shot at a touchdown in the second quarter of Saturday's 23-10 loss to Memphis.
Martin, who moved from offensive line to tight end among other positions this season, lined up at fullback on second and goal from the 1 with 8:22 left in the first half. It was a play, Martin said, that had been run multiple times in practice during the two weeks leading up to the game with plenty of success.
But when time came to run the play for real, Martin couldn't execute the handoff because he didn't have a firm grip on the ball.
"I had a lot of butterflies," he said Tuesday. "I was actually thinking about what my celebration was going to be, because I got it every day in practice. I was like, 'I've got this down pat. I'm going to walk in the end zone.' And it never happened."
SENIOR SENDOFF: USF will honor its 17 seniors and their families with a ceremony during Saturday's game against SMU, the final home game of the season.
"I don't really know how to take it," LB DeDe Lattimore said. "I've been at South Florida going on five years, playing at Raymond James. Only thing I can say is it's a great opportunity and I'm just trying to get this win to go out even sweeter."
Coach Willie Taggart said that despite being ineligible for a bowl, the team isn't looking toward next year. "These guys have worked really hard and they've done everything we've asked of them," he said. "It's only fair that we all work our tails off to make it right for them."
UF: A different look
GAINESVILLE — Florida's preparation for Georgia Southern this week has taken on extra intensity because of the sophisticated triple-option offense the Eagles will bring to the Swamp.
"They run a classic triple-option, a dive-option with a lot of different looks that they're going to give us, and they do a nice job of executing those things," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "It's all-responsibility football. This weekend's all about responsibility football defensively.
"We're getting ready for an offense that's so different from what we've seen in three years."
Several Gators said they faced similar offenses in high school and said without a sound defense, it could be a long day Saturday.
"I know if you don't stop the dive you're in a lot of trouble," LB Mike Taylor said. "We have our ways of stopping it this week. We have a different game plan. … If you've never seen it, you can be like, 'God, this is tricky'. But most of us have seen it before."
Antonya English, Times staff writer
FSU: TE setting standard
TALLAHASSEE — Nick O'Leary is on pace to become the most productive tight end in Florida State history. The junior's 17-yard TD catch Saturday gave him 11 for his career, a school record among tight ends.
"It's cool to have the record here at Florida State," O'Leary said. "It wasn't a huge number of touchdowns to beat, but I'm glad that I got it."
Gary Parris (1970-72) is FSU's leader in receptions (82) and yards (1,125) among tight ends. O'Leary has 59 catches and 860 yards.
BIGGER ROLE: Expect to see more of WR Kermit Whitfield. The freshman took a toss for a 74-yard TD against Syracuse, a sign that coach Jimbo Fisher is working on ways to utilize Whitfield's blazing speed. "He's so dynamic with the ball and is really getting a grasp on what we're doing," Fisher said.
UM: Back to Bearcats
CINCINNATI — Miami and Cincinnati will resume their football series next year in Florida, with the Hurricanes playing at newly renovated Nippert Stadium on the Bearcats' campus in 2015.
The schools have played 11 times but none since 1998.