USFNation Game Grades: USF vs.Pitt

The Bulls won in impressive fashion over Pittsburgh on Saturday's Homecoming game 22-12. USFNation.com hands out game grades position-by-position. Read on to see how they graded out. Also included in this weeks' grades are the average grades from the message board. Only on USFNation.com!

Quarterback: Matt Grothe had productive numbers, but made some bad decisions throwing the ball that resulted in turnovers. Grothe completed 19 of 25 for 180 yards including one touchdown and two interceptions while rushing for 51 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries. After aggravating his right ankle again, Grothe was forced to leave the game late to have x-rays taken. Prior to leaving, Grothe made the play of the game when he seemed to be thrown for a sack but stayed on his feet after busting a spin move before throwing for a first down. Unfortunately a few plays later, the Bulls turned the ball over.  His replacement was Senior Pat Julmiste who performed very well in relief. He threw only one pass, which was completed for a seven yard gain. His main role was to either run with the ball or hand it off. On the ground, he gained 45 yards on 10 caries.
USFNation Staff Grade: B
Message Board Avg. Grade: A


Wide Receiver: Overall, the Bulls' receivers played excellent as a unit. Beginning with the opening drive, they tried to establish their dominance over the Pittsburgh secondary. The Bulls opened the game with a 65 yard drive that ended with a 22 yard double reverse for a score by Taurus Johnson. Matt Grothe set up the scoring play by completing consecutive passes to Taurus Johnson, Ean Randolph, and Marcus Edwards. Every ball that needed to be caught was and each player contributed in his own way. Johnson had three catches for 24 yards while Ean Randolph had five receptions for 39 yards. The final offensive score of the day for the Bulls came courtesy of Amarri Jackson who caught a 46 yard pass for a touchdown. S.J. Green also gained 45 yards off of three passes.
USFNation Staff Grade: A

Message Board Avg. Grade: A-

Runningback: Once again, this seemed to be the Achilles heel for the Bulls' offensive attack. Starting running back Ricky Ponton was able to only rush for 38 yards on 15 carries. Blocking has improved in the backfield, but the only rushing attack that is ever established comes courtesy of the quarterbacks.
USFNation Staff Grade: C-
Message Board Avg. Grade: C

Offensive line: 
The big men up front had a pretty good performance this week even though they allowed the Panthers to record two sacks. Grothe had a considerable amount of time to throw the ball and had a pretty productive game minus the turnovers. The one problem seems to be opening up lanes for the running backs. The only rushing threat proved to be the quarterbacks. They are improving every game on stopping the outside defensive rush, but will need to open some more holes before they can receive a higher grade.
USFNation Staff Grade: B
Message Board Avg. Grade: A-

Defensive back: The Bulls' secondary saved one of their best performances of the season for Saturday's homecoming win. Their victim was quarterback Tyler Palko who entered the game ranked second in the nation in passing efficiency and had only been intercepted three times all season long. USF matched that number by picking off three passes on Saturday and allowing Palko to throw for a season low 159 yards. Jeremy Burnett picked off the first pass of his career while Mike Jenkins recorded his lone interception on the season. The most impressive defensive back was Trae Williams who had seven tackles, including five solo, a pass deflection that resulted in Jenkins getting his first interception of the season. For his performance, Williams was name the Big East defensive player of the week. His pick came with 31 seconds remaining in the game to help seal the victory. This brings his interception total to six on the season
USFNation Staff Grade: A+
Message Board Avg. Grade: A

Linebacker: Every single week, the three USF linebackers show why they should be considered the best core of linebackers in the nation. Patrick St. Louis had six tackles on the day and one pass breakup while Ben Moffitt added six tackles of his own. The standout, once again, was Stephen Nicholas who along with four tackles, including two tackles for losses, recorded the only two sacks for the Bulls' defense. No matter what occurs during any given week, fans can always expect to see three linebackers play their hearts out starting with the opening snap and ending with the final whistle. Local fans are already begging for one of these players to land with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when draft time rolls around.
USFNation Staff Grade: A
Message Board Avg. Grade: A

D-line: This was one of the better performance by the Bulls' front four all season long. For these players, the stats just do not tell the whole story. George Selvie only had two tackles on the game while Josh Julmiste added two of his own. Also Woody George and Allen Cray each contributed on tackle as well. More importantly, the line put excellent pressure on Tyler Palko all day long and allowed the leading rusher to only gain 31 yards on 11 carries. They may have not been rewarded in the stat book for making plays, but they seemed to constantly open up gaps for blitzing linebackers to run through. The front four forced Pittsburgh to make some bad decisions and helped their teammates make the plays necessary to ensure a victory. 
USFNation Staff Grade: B+
Message Board Avg. Grade: A

Special teams: If the grades were awarded to only Justin Teachey, special teams would earn an A+, but unfortunately that is not the case. Teachey was impressive though converting two fake punts that resulted in 14 and 11 yard gains for first downs. While the second fake was a called play, the initial one was improvised on the opening drive after only three offensive plays. Coach Leavitt told Teachey to fake it if he saw the defense drop back due to his rugby style. After taking the snap, the punter briefly hesitated before taking off for an 11 yard rush. A few plays later, the Bulls punched in their first score of the day. Ean Randolph had three punt returns in the game. He was able to break free on one for a 26 yard return while Taurus Johnson added an 18 yard kick return. The kicking problems continued for USF though. Delbert Alverado replaced Mike Benzer as the team's kicker, but the result was the same. His only attempt was from 37 yards and the Panthers' defense was able to block the kick. Unlike other fans I do consider fake punts when handing out grades. Coach Leavitt was being slammed by people last week when a fake punt attempt failed, this week it was a success on two separate occasions so lets give Coach some credit for calling the second one and Teachey credit for both.
USFNation Staff Grade: D+
Message Board Avg. Grade: C-

 

 


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