TAMPA — The Bucs had just finished a 19-17 home loss to the Rams, and coach Lovie Smith was in no mood to talk about play calling, injuries or the last-second mistake that cost his team the game.
His focus was on special-teams mistakes and a trend that's affecting games across the league: blocked kicks.
"You lose games when you have a field goal that's blocked when you're going to put three points on the board," Smith said after that Week 2 loss. "When you have a punt that's blocked and they score, that's when you lose."...
TAMPA — Coach Lovie Smith calls it not being physical enough. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier believes it's a lack of play-making. Gerald McCoy says the Bucs are soft.
By any description, the Bucs are not a very tough football team. Not on the field and certainly not in the film room.
"Coupled with a new coaching staff and bodies in and out, put those things together, that sometimes equates to details being negated or overlooked," linebacker Jonathan Casillas said....
The score of Robinson's district game against Blake was tied at halftime. Coach Shawn Taylor knew he had to say something to his Knights during the break to motivate them.
"We just talked about executing better. We weren't running the ball real well and we weren't pass blocking real well," he said. "We had to make adjustments."
The Knights went down 7-0 in the third quarter but scored four unanswered touchdowns to win 27-7....
10/24/14 TV and Radio
Autos Trucks: Kroger 200 qualifying 10 a.m. FS1 Sprint Cup: Goody's 500 practice noon FS1 Trucks: Kroger 200 1:30 p.m. FS1 Baseball, World Series Game 4: Royals at Giants 8 p.m. Ch. 13; 620-AM College football Texas at Kansas State noon ESPN; 98.7-FM Rutgers at Nebraska noon ESPN2 Minnesota at Illinois noon ESPNU Memphis at SMU noon ESPNEWS UAB at Arkansas noon SEC North Texas at Rice noon FSF Maryland at Wisconsin noon Big Ten North Carolina at Virginia 12:30 Ch. 44 San Jose State at Navy 1 CBSSN Penn at Yale 1:30 NBCSN West Virginia at Oklahoma State 3:30 ESPN Mississippi State at Kentucky 3:30 Ch. 10 Michigan at Michigan State 3:30 Ch. 28; 98.7-FM Oregon State at Stanford 3:30 ESPN2 Georgia Tech at Pittsburgh 3:30 ESPNU Boston College at Wake Forest 3:30 FSF Texas Tech at TCU 3:30 Ch. 13 Louisiana Tech at Southern Miss 3:30 Ch. 38 Florida Atlantic at Marshall 3:30 FS1 Vanderbilt at Missouri 4 SEC UNLV at Utah State 4 ESPNEWS Temple at UCF 5 CBSSN Syracuse at Clemson 7 ESPNU UTEP at Texas-San Antonio 7 Ch. 38 Mississippi at LSU 7:15 ESPN; 1250-AM Alabama at Tennessee 7:30 ESPN2 South Carolina at Auburn 7:30 SEC; 98.7-FM Ohio State at Penn State 8 Ch. 28; 1010-AM, 1040-AM USC at Utah 10 FS1 Alabama A&M at Alabama State (taped) 10 ESPNU Arizona State at Washington 10:45 ESPN Golf PGA: McGladrey Classic 2 p.m. Golf Champions: AT&T Championship 5 p.m. Golf Asia Pacific Amateur Championship 9 p.m. ESPNews LPGA: Blue Bay Championship 11:30 p.m. Golf NHL Bruins at Maple Leafs 7 p.m. NHL Lightning at Wild 8 p.m. Sun Sports; 970-AM Soccer EPL: Manchester City at West Ham 7:45 a.m. NBCSN; 1040-AM EPL: Arsenal at Sunderland 10 a.m. NBCSN EPL: Leicester City at Swansea City 12:30 p.m. Ch. 8 MLS: Los Angeles at Seattle 2:30 p.m. Ch. 8 Mexican: Guadalajara at Pachuca 9 p.m. Telemundo Tennis WTA Championships 6 a.m. Tennis ATP: Swiss Indoors 9:30 a.m. Tennis
ST. PETERSBURG — Lakewood locked up first place in Class 5A, District 8 with a balanced 49-29 win over Tarpon Springs on Friday.
The Spartans ground out 214 yards rushing and got 169 passing yards from quarterback Ryan Davis to finish district play 4-0.
Tarpon Springs (5-3, 2-1) needs a win over Boca Ciega next Friday to secure the second playoff spot.
"Tarpon is a really, really good football team, but tonight was our night,'' Lakewood coach Cory Moore said. "Our big beef boys came together tonight. We wanted to make (Tarpon) work 60 seconds of every minute. We do that, we should be on top.''...
PINELLAS PARK — East Lake receiver George Campbell stood by a fence when a media horde swarmed around him moments after his team clinched its fourth straight Class 7A, District 9 title with a 45-14 demolishing of Pinellas Park.
Campbell, a five-star recruit who has committed to FSU, resumed his rightful place in the spotlight, patiently answering each question after he came up with his biggest performance of the season with eight catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns....
Four people were taken to a hospital in critical condition, including three children who were ejected from an SUV after it was involved in a head-on crash with a U-Haul truck Friday night in Gibsonton, Hillsborough County Fire Rescue said.
The crash happened at 7 p.m. at Symmes Road and U.S. 41. Ten of the 11 people in the SUV were injured — four in critical condition, one with serious injuries, and five others with injuries, Fire Rescue said....
TAMPA — Gaither's newfound run game had worked wonders for the Cowboys so far this season, and they asserted themselves on the ground after the very first snap Friday against Tampa Bay Tech, totaling 50 yards on the first three plays.
Before long, though, Titans quarterback Deon Cain showed them two could play that game.
Cain rushed for 250 yards and two touchdowns in the district matchup, leading Tampa Bay Tech to a 42-32 victory. The Titans now have a chance to play for a district title against Sickles next week. ...
CINCINNATI — Apparently, all those positive vibes USF culled from last week's historic victory at Tulsa never crossed the Ohio River on Friday. On a crisp Cincinnati night, beneath a majestic Midwest skyline, the Bulls experienced no second-half resurgence.
Only three-quarter regression.
Interceptions, infractions and basic ineptitude converged to kill any chance of the Bulls escaping Paul Brown Stadium with a critical American Athletic Conference victory. Exploiting most of the blunders, Cincinnati held off a Steven Bench-led fourth-quarter rally for a 34-17 triumph....
10/24/14 Lightning Strikes
WINNIPEG — Star center Steven Stamkos knows there will be a lot of comparisons between his current linemate, touted rookie wing Jonathan Drouin, and former longtime wingman Marty St. Louis.
"But he's his own player," Stamkos said of Drouin. "The skill set is there. It's pretty impressive to see."
Drouin's skills were on full display Friday night as he picked up his first NHL goal and an assist as the Lightning beat the Jets 4-2 at the MTS Centre. ...
10/24/14 The Heater
ST. PETERSBURG — First, the architect who built the team, Andrew Friedman bolted for big bucks with the Dodgers. Now, barely a week later, the man who managed so deftly for nine years, Joe Maddon, opted out of his contract without another job.
Plus, the payroll is headed down after a frustrating season, attendance remains among the worst in the majors, and there still has been no real progress on a new stadium....
Halloween: Zombies and vampires and ghosties — oh my! It's their night Friday and all week long. If you haven't already hit the major attractions, it's time to catch Busch Garden's zombie-shooting Howl-O-Scream ($45-$65), Lowry Park Zoo's family-friendly ZooBoo ($18, $14 ages 3-11) or Dr. Radley's Nightmare Machine at the Radley Haunted House ($5). Find more haunted houses, corn mazes and trick-or-treat spots at tampabay.com/halloween....
TOWN 'N COUNTRY — It's amazing Brandan Teague didn't pull a muscle straining to stare at Angela Hall working out at the University of Tampa gym.
"Everybody noticed her," said Teague, who played third base and pitched for UT in 2008-09. Eyeing Hall certainly reduced his teammates' complaints during those grueling workouts.
Hall wasn't exactly oblivious to the attention, but stayed focused on her trainer, who arranged for the former cheerleader to use the campus gym. A year or so later, he coincidentally invited them both to participate in his running club. That's where Teague finagled an introduction....
CINCINNATI — Four autumns after routinely posting video game-like receiving numbers for Jefferson High, Andre Davis proved he had at least one more historic Friday night left in him.
With the Cincinnati skyline as a backdrop, an ESPN2 viewership as an audience, and a critical first down as the stake, Davis became USF's career receptions leader in Friday's opening quarter.
His 8-yard catch on third and 5 in Cincinnati territory, which set up Marvin Kloss' 44-yard field goal, gave Davis 132 career receptions, eclipsing Hugh Smith's 12-year-old mark....
10/24/14 Lightning Strikes
WINNIPEG — There was a surprise late arrival for the Lightning's morning skate Friday, with RW Ryan Callahan jumping on the ice near the end.
" 'Cally!' " one player yelled.
It was the first time Callahan, 29, skated since suffering a lower-body injury in the second period of Monday's game against the Oilers. He was cautious in his strides and did some shooting. Coach Jon Cooper said the veteran is week to week. But for Callahan, it was an encouraging first step....