QB: Matt Grothe found himself in the national spotlight in only his fifth career start. He was very impressive against 23rd ranked Rutgers on Friday, but for the first time this season he made mistakes that reminded people he is actually a freshman. Grothe played brilliantly in the first half by throwing only three incomplete passes and rushing for one yard score as well as a 22 yard touchdown. In the second half, Grothe seemed to struggle and turned the ball over three times. On the Bulls opening possession of the second half, USF faced a first and ten from the 50 yard line, but Grothe's pass was intercepted. The ensuing drive by Rutgers led to a 40-yard field goal. Two drives later, Grothe was intercepted again this time at the USF 32 yard line. Rutgers took over and three minutes later scored on a seven yard touchdown run. Grothe's third turnover came late in the fourth quarter when he fumbled following a six yard rush. The turnover did not kill the Bulls' chances though since the defense was able to block a game clinching 42-yard field goal. This gave the offense one last chance for a comeback. Grothe remained calm and drove nearly 70 yards before hitting Ean Randolph for a 16 yard touchdown. All that remained was a two point conversion attempt to tie the game. Grothe made a perfect pass on the play but could only watch as the ball bounced out of the receiver's hands. Grothe once again was the leading rusher for the Bulls with 61 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries. Through the air, he ended up completing 16 of 25 for 241 yards including one touchdown and two interceptions. He did not have his best start of the year, but with the game on the line he once again stepped up and proved why he will be the team leader for years to come.
USFNation Staff Grade: B
Message Board Avg. Grade: A-
WR: Trying to grade the receivers for this past game is tough task in itself since the only play people seem to remember the drop by Amp Hill on the two point conversion. People need to recognize that Hill is a heck of a player with a lot of potential who will have plenty of opportunities to redeem himself. With that being said, any receiver who plays college football needs to make that catch. The pass was perfect but Hill just could not make the play, which makes me wonder why Hill was the target in the first place especially since he did not record a catch all game. Ean Randolph came up huge for the Bulls catching six passes for 49 yards including most importantly the 16 yard touchdown reception at the end of the game. Amarri Jackson caught three balls for 83 yards. His longest reception was a 35 yard pass that was caught in the second quarter on the first play from scrimmage. This along with a 32 yard pass caught by Taurus Johnson, his only one of the game, helped set up a one yard score by Grothe. Once again there seemed to be entirely too many drops even though nine different players, including Grothe, caught passes.
USFNation Staff Grade: B-
Message Board Avg. Grade: B-
RB: I know the Bulls are severely hurting without Ricky Ponton and Moise Plancher but for the fourth week in a row the backs have looked completely worthless. This is not to say that there is not talent lining up behind the quarterback, but they just are not getting the reps. Grothe once again was the leading rusher with 14 carries for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Benjamin Williams rushed for 18 yards on nine carries and Colby Erskin had one rush for two yards. In other words, for the entire game the running backs had ten carries for 19 yards along with blocking issues that forced Grothe to constantly run from the pocket. There comes a time when the blame cannot all be placed on the shoulders of the running backs. Even if Ponton and Plancher in the lineup, how successful could they really be carrying the ball only ten times a game. Keeley Dorsey, who runs a 4.4 40 yard dash, needs to be given a chance to showcase his speed.
USFNation Staff Grade: F
Message Board Avg. Grade: F
Offensive line: One of the biggest challenges for this season was putting together five healthy starters up front. In this particular game, the line did fairly well. Grothe was given a considerate amount of time to throw the ball and was only sacked once for the game. The run blocking was pretty bad hence the reason why the longest run of the day was a 22 yard touchdown by Grothe who had to break tackles just to get past the line of scrimmage. This is a work in progress but they have greatly improved since the opening of the season.
USFNation Staff Grade: C-
Message Board Avg. Grade: C
DB's: Overall the defensive backs played a great game. Once again Trae Williams was the leader of the unit. His key play came late in the second quarter when he intercepted a deep pass at the Bulls' 30 yard line. The squad allowed no touchdowns and only 100 yards in the air. They were never caught out of position or beaten deep during the game. The longest passing play they allowed was a 25 yard completion.
USFNation Staff Grade: B+
Message Board Avg. Grade: B+
LB: The core of the Bulls defense is the linebackers, and their play is solid, but they need to make more game changing plays. Pat St. Louis had 8 tackles, 3 of them solo, and one big sack that came on third and 2 on the Bulls 7 yard line that held Rutgers to a field goal and a 10-0 lead. Ben Moffitt also had 8 tackles, 6 of them solo, and Stephen Nicholas had 7 tackles all of them solo with an all-important blocked kick. The star trios however, missed several tackles, and were part responsible for Ray Rice's 202 yards and some key 3rd down conversions by Rutgers. However, Stephen Nicholas made the play of the day defensively for the Bulls. It came on special teams when he blocked a 42 yard game clinching field goal for Rutgers late in the fourth quarter
USFNation Staff Grade: B
Message Board Avg. Grade: B-
D-line: This has without a doubt been the toughest rushing attack the Bulls have had to face all season. It also does not help when the best run-stopper on the team, Richard Clebert, missed the game due to a groin injury that will keep him sidelined for the rest of the season. There was not nearly enough of pressure put on the quarterback and at times the defense seemed to get blown off the line of scrimmage on run plays. For the game, Rutgers only allowed one sack but had 234 net yards in rushing. Most of those yards came from Raymell Rice who carried the ball 35 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns, which is an average of 5.8 yards per rush.
USFNation Staff Grade: D-
Message Board Avg. Grade: D
Special teams: Out of all the positions, this is surprisingly the most difficult to grade. Overall, the grades could be broken down into three categories. As far as kicking, the Bulls were once again horrible. Mike Benzer missed a 40 yard field goal early on in the second quarter while Jeremy Ito, the kicker for Rutgers went 3-3 including a 53 yard field goal early on in the fourth quarter. Justin Teachey had a decent day punting, but shanked a kick in the second quarter that only went 18 yards. Rutgers took over at the Bulls' 26 yard line and eventually kicked a 32 yard field goal that put them ahead 10-0. It was not completely Teachey's fault though. As a rugby style punter, he is used to running to his right before booting the ball. This time the line gave him no time, which forced him to kick the ball before being able to roll out. The return men for the Bulls had an average day led by Ean Randolph, who had two returns for 26 yards. The highlight of the day came courtesy of the Stephen Nicholas who blocked a 42 yard attempt with under three minutes left in the game. With that play, the Bulls' offense was given one last shot to win the came but fell short in the end.
USFNation Staff Grade: D
Message Board Avg. Grade: C-
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