Make us your home page

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's punt returners had help in opener


Much of the special-teams praise from USF's 56-7 win Saturday over Tennessee-Martin was directed at returners Marcus Edwards, Patrick Richardson and Theo Wilson, who combined to give the Bulls a Big East record for total punt return yards in a game.

But as Bulls assistant Troy Douglas charted and graded the game tape, he was impressed by another staggering number: USF had 19 knockdown blocks on those 10 punt returns, led by six from LB Tyrone McKenzie, four from RB Jamar Taylor and two from CB Jerome Murphy.

USF had made it a priority to put their best players on special teams, including starters.

"We were very aggressive, and they (Tennessee-Martin) didn't really want to cover punts very much the other night," Douglas said. "We're a Florida team, so it's got to be a weapon for us with the athletes we have. We've got to be good on special teams. We've preached it and worked it very hard in camp."

Douglas said he expects more of a challenge on punt returns Saturday, as UCF's "stingers" — the fastest players who line up wide and are typically the first to reach a returner — are especially good. Douglas said when USF double-teamed the stingers against Tennessee-Martin, the coverage was extremely effective.

"We got after it pretty good," Douglas said. "Our double teams had their guys up on the sideline. They knocked a coach down. It was pretty impressive. They took to it and really performed. It helps when you have a guy back there who can take it the distance. They want to fight for that."

BIG CROWDS: Hoping the high student turnout for football games can spill over to other sports, USF has implemented an incentive program that gives students who attend other sporting events on campus a better shot at getting seats in the Bulls' football student section.

With 45,000 students and only 12,501 seats in the student section, USF students camped out for the free tickets last season. This year, there's an online lottery, and students can improve their chances by having their student ID swiped at volleyball, soccer and other sports.

As a result, a record sellout crowd of 1,178 fans packed the Corral in the Sun Dome for volleyball Friday night, and another 1,100 were back Saturday afternoon. USF executive associate athletic director Bill McGillis is pleased with the initial success of the program.

"You hate to throw around too many big adjectives, but it was phenomenal," McGillis said. "When it was standing room only Friday night, there was probably another 300 or 400 outside lining the sidewalk past the rec center. … A lot of students came in large part to get the points (for football) but … we think it will be great for volleyball and men's and women's soccer."

Only 1,000 tickets to Saturday's football game at UCF have been set aside for students to purchase, and students are also trying to get lower-level tickets for USF's Sept. 12 game against No. 14 Kansas.

THIS AND THAT: Freshman QB B.J. Daniels, 4-for-4 for 86 yards in his debut Saturday, will be on USF's basketball roster, but won't practice with Stan Heath's team until after any bowl game. "I have to stay focused on football. That's what I came here for," Daniels said. … Tied for the scoring lead in men's soccer is Zak Boggs, a transfer from UCF who sat out last season after leading the Knights in scoring in 2006. Boggs had a goal and assist in Friday's 3-0 win over Bowling Green.

Greg Auman can be reached at and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at

USF's punt returners had help in opener 09/02/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 2, 2008 10:54pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Anthem protest, the latest: Jerry Jones joins Cowboys on field in show of solidarity


    As President Donald Trump continued tweeting Monday about his displeasure with NFL players for staging demonstrations during the national anthem, the Cowboys took a knee on the field just before the anthem was performed on Monday Night Football. Dallas players were joined by owner Jerry Jones, and they quickly …

    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, center, joins the team in taking a knee before the national anthem Monday night. They stood and linked arms for the anthem.
  2. Bucs journal: Gerald McCoy says players who kneel have team's support


    TAMPA — Receivers Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson were the only Bucs players kneeling during the national anthem before Sunday's game against the Vikings, but DT Gerald McCoy said the team supports their protest "100 percent."

    Bucs tight end Cameron Brate pulls in a touchdown catch as Vikings safety Andrew Sendejo (34) hits him in the back of the head.
  3. Rays at Yankees, 7:05 p.m. Tuesday, New York

    The Heater

    Tonight: at Yankees

    7:05, Yankee Stadium, New York

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    Tampa Bay Rays' Blake Snell poses for a picture during the team's photo day at baseball spring training in Port Charlotte, Fla., Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Luke Del Rio regains UF starting job, for now


    GAINESVILLE — Luke Del Rio is once again the starting quarterback for No. 21 Florida.

    Luke Del Rio provided a needed spark when he replaced starter Feleipe Franks and rallied Florida past Kentucky.
  5. Four questions the Lightning still has to answer

    Lightning Strikes

    FORT LAUDERDALE — The Lightning made its biggest round of cuts Monday, with some of the big-name prospects heading out.

    Tampa Bay Lightning forward Steven Stamkos (91) looks on from the bench during a shift change at Lightning hockey training camp in Brandon on Monday (09/18/17). In background on right is Nikita Kucherov (86). DIRK SHADD   |   Times