It’s no secret that junior linebacker Auggie Sanchez is leader of the USF defense, physically and mentally. The defensive captain focuses in on the opponent in front of him, looking to punish those who dare to cross his path.
Sanchez led the Bulls last season with 117 tackles, good enough for second most in team history. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have moments that he wishes he could have back.
Last season’s bout between the Bulls and Florida State ended early for Sanchez, who was ejected from the game due to a targeting penalty on then Seminole quarterback Everett Golson.
“I just sat in the locker room you know, mad, upset,” said Sanchez when explaining what he did directly after his ejection. “Just said some things, said some bad things to myself in there, you know took a shower and then was ready to get on the bus ride home. I was very upset with myself, very upset with the call, you know, just disappointed.”
The call was a controversial one that deflated a Bulls defense that had managed to hang in with the heavy favorite Seminoles, and hampered the team for future games, even if it shouldn’t have.
It was a penalty that had a lasting effect on Sanchez, sitting in his mind for the past year.
“They ended up turning it in to the officials and they said it actually wasn’t a targeting call, but they said there was nothing they could do because it was on the field. I guess that’s just the rule. To hear that made me more mad, because it when on to Maryland and then we eventually lost that game as well and it kind of hurt the team. Just to know it wasn’t targeting kind of makes you more upset. Still to this day it makes me upset.”
While the bad call may sit with Sanchez and Bulls fans, he knows that it is in the past just like every other game he has played. For Sanchez, every week is about the team that is in front of him; a sentiment that is shared by the rest of the team.
“Each game is a big week and I think that’s been the biggest thing for us this year. It’s on to the next game and every game is the next biggest game,” said Sanchez. “In years past we would’ve looked at this game, ‘You know this is Florida State, this is a crazy big game that we’ve got to get up for,’ but if we don’t get up for all our games this year we would be 0-3 right now…I think every game is a big game and we have to be prepared for them.”
Just because Sanchez and company only lock in on one opponent at time doesn’t mean that the gravity of this game is lost on the team. Going up against a team with a history like Florida State’s presents an opportunity instead of a challenge in Sanchez’s mind.
“We just want to see as much green and gold in the stands as possible,” said Sanchez. “We’re trying to build some history here. I think that’s what a lot of us came here for was to be the first to do something, and that’s creating history.”