USFNation.com rewards the key contributors from the Bulls 24-6 loss on the road against Cincinnati this past Sunday. The game was nothing short of a defensive battle. Read on to find out who we handed out game balls to this week. Only on USFNation.com!
1. Cincinnati Defense-
For the first time this season, an opposing defense made Matt Grothe
remember that he is still technically a freshman. Grothe was limited to only 47 passing yards and one interception, which is a season low before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a busted nose. Every time the Bearcats needed a big play, it was the defense that came through. They forced three turnovers as well as limited the Bulls to a total of 219 yards. After the special teams unit for Cincinnati downed a punt at the Bulls two yard line, the Bulls would have to try and embark on a 98 yard drive. Instead Benjamin Williams
was tackled in the end zone to give the Bearcats an early 2-0 advantage midway through the first quarter. On the play, the defensive tackles barreled through the middle of the line of scrimmage, and smashed Williams before he was even given a chance. Perhaps the biggest defensive play came with on the Bulls' ensuing drive with 1:09 remaining in the third quarter. USF took the ball on their first possession of the second half and drove all the way down to the Bearcats' 12 yard line. After Matt Grothe connected with Taurus Johnson
, Trevor Anderson
caused a fumble at the USF 43. The ball was immediately picked up by linebacker Kevin McCullough
who then returned it 39 yards for a touchdown to extend the Bearcats' lead to 9-0 lead. The offensive line of the Bulls were completely overwhelmed and run over by a Bearcats defense that sacked Grothe four times. The Bulls came close to being shutout for only the second time ever, but a meaningless Pat Julmiste
touchdown pass with under a minute left removed the goose egg from the scoreboard.
2. USF DEFENSE-
The Bulls found themselves in the dogfight that Coach Jim Leavitt
had been talking about all night long. The majority of the defense was up to the task even though the defensive line seemed to be completely blown off the ball at times. The only times the Bearcats were able to reach the end zone was when they began with great field position. The defense was able to hold the Bearcats' offense scoreless until 12:52 left in the 4th quarter after a failed fake punt attempt by the Bulls on their own 26 yard line. This led to one yard rushing touchdown. The other score came at 2:47 left in the fourth after the Bulls didn't convert on fourth down deep in their own territory. Stephen Nicholas
was once again the game leading tackler with 12 total tackles including one and a half for a loss as well as half a sack. Patrick St. Louis added nine tackles while George Selvie
recorded eight tackles and one sack. The secondary held the Bearcats' to only 109 yards passing and never gave up a deep pass even though they seemed beaten at times.
The temperature at kickoff Sunday was 45 degrees, which was the second-coldest game in USF history and only the fifth game that the Bulls have played when the temperature at kickoff was 50 degrees or less. The coaches and players won't use that as an excuse, however the Bulls haven't won a game when the temperature at kickoff was lower then 45 degrees. Last season's 15-10 loss at Connecticut
played in 33-degree weather was the coldest in the Bulls history.
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