Grothe, White Team Wins USF's Spring Game 7-6

The Bulls annual spring game in front of 4,310 was a defensive battle most of the night until much heralded running back Mike Ford scored his first touchdown at Raymond James 30 seconds into the 4th. Matt Grothe's 3 yard TD run with 1.06 left gives the white team a 7-6 win. Read on for the game summary, stats, and notes and observations from the game. Only on

The Bulls annual spring game in front of 4,310 was a defensive battle most of the night until much heralded running back Mike Ford  scored his first touchdown at Raymond James 30 seconds into the 4th. Matt Grothe's 3 yard TD run with 1.06 left gives the white team a 7-6 win

Mike Ford a crowd favorite, only touched the ball twice through the first three quarters, but gave the 4,310 fans in attendance a glimpse of the future in the 4th quarter. On the touchdown drive Ford rushed for 51 yards including consecutive runs of 12, 9, a  26 yard scamper that ended with Ford lowering his shoulder and going through Louis Gachette before going out of bounds. Ford finished the drive with a 4 yard td run, the only TD for the Green.  Ilia Petrov missed extra point proved to be the difference in the game.

It was a good showing for the freshmen running backs with Ford finishing 8 carries for 55 yards and a TD, and Aston Samuels rushing 14 times for 58 yards and showed his speed on several plays. Walk-on Shawn Cannon continued his goods spring finishing with 47 yards on 8 carries

Grothe was obliviously unhappy with the no-contact rule on quarterbacks that led to many early whistles that probably wouldn't have been sacks in a real game. However after getting great field position with just under 4 minutes to play, Grothe engineered a 39 yard drive that was capped with a vintage Grothe 3 yard touchdown run with 1.06 left to give the white team a 7-6 lead.

Grothe finished the night with 18-of-34 passing for 179 yards and one rushing score. Green team QB Grant Gregory also had some difficulty, going 14-of-26 for 154 yards with two interceptions.

The receivers were lead by Marcus Edwards of the white team with 4 catches for 50 yards and freshmen Carlton Mitchell for the green team, who skipped a USF track meet to participate in the spring game caught 5 balls for 51 yards.

It was a good night for the defense led by  sophomore DE George Selvie of the white team who finished with seven tackles,  three for losses and a highlight reel interception off a deflected pass. The Green team was lead by while Sam Miller who had eight tackles, including one sack. Also, Jarriett, Aaron Harris and  Buie Julian Riley each had two sacks for the Green.  

The game ended with an interception by Safety Carlton on the Green team's final drive.

Game Stats


Grothe (White)    18-34-179
Gregory (Green)  14-26-154, 2 ints


Cannon (white)    8-47
Samuels (white)    14-58
Ford (green)      8-55, 1 TD
Williams (green)  5-17


Mitchell (green)   5-51
Johnson (green) 2-31
Denson (white) 5-59
Edwards (white) 4-54
Hester (white_ 4-38


George Selvie - 7 tackles, 3 for losses (1 sack), 1 interception

Sam Miller - 8 tackles, 1 for loss (1 sack)
Nate Alen - 7 tackles
Julian Riley, Aaron Harris and Jarriett Buie each had two sacks


Notes & Observations

·        Danny Verpaele and Sam Miller both made some notable hits, Danny layed out Marcus Edwards while Sam gored walk-on Rafael Williams.

·        Green QB Grant Gregory threw two interceptions.  His first pick was by D-End George Selvie, showing typical lineman hands by bobbling the ball before it rested in his arms.  The other was by Carlton Williams, who was getting the most trash-talk from the Green team.  His pick ended the game.

·        Gregory's backup, walk-on Brian Koesling, had one bright spot, showing some zip on a 3rd-down pass to Jason Sherman, converting the first down.

·        Each kicker struggled mightily, as Mike Benzer missed a 41-yarder to the right and was short on a 51-yarder by about 5 yards.  Ilia Petrov started out as the punter, he booted his first two punts into the endzone, and fell shorter than Benzer did on a 51-yard field goal, as well as shanking a shorter field-goal.  Petrov's woes would continue with a missed extra point.

·        William Criswell, who punted for White, blasted a punt over Ponton's head and rested at the 9 yard line for a 69-yard punt.   

·        Anthony Severino had some issues holding the ball on field goals.  The long-snapper had some problems getting the ball to Severino at times as well.

Green Team Bright Spots

·        WR's Taurus Johnson, Colby Erskin, and Carlton Mitchell each had some moments in the game where they shined.  Johnson made some nice moves after the catch to stretch the plays an extra 5 yards.  He was also the receiver of a hook-n-latter play at the end of the first half.  Erskin received the lateral from Johnson, and got the crowd on their feet by running all the way to the left of the field, then all the way back to the right, then back to the left, and wound getting tackled by George Selvie and not gaining any yards.  Some fans around were saying that that play is what kept them at the game after a scoreless first half.  Carlton was getting open very easily and was a target of several pass plays.  Every time he caught the ball, he had about 5 yards of breathing room.

·        Fives collide, as (5)Ricky Ponton laid out (5)Nate Allen.

·        Mike Ford was an obvious fan favorite, receiving an ovation every time his name was called.  He established himself as a fan favorite, scoring the only TD for the Green.  On that drive, he took over completely, having consecutive runs of 12, 26, and 5 for a touchdown.

·        Defensively, Chris Robinson showed that he hasn't missed a beat on batting passes down.  He was also involved in the PAT block of Mike Benzer, along with Jerome Murphy.  He and Jerome both went in unblocked, and literally had time to get in front of the kick and turn around to avoid getting hit in the chin.  Unfortunately, you're not allowed to block kicks in the Spring Game, thus resulting in a re-kick and a loss.


White Team Bright Spots

·        Iowa State transfer Tyrone McKenzie didn't take long to make an impression, sacking Grant Gregory on his first play.

·        Aston Samuels showed some excellent burst and proved to be effective when he bounced outside.  He got stuffed more often than not when he ran up the middle.

·        Yes, this was indeed a bright spot.  Mike Benzer made the game-winning PAT.  This was the only kick that actually went between the uprights.

·        Matt Grothe made some excellent plays with his legs.  It may not sound new, but considering the fact that the play was blown dead after the quarterback is just touched, those plays Grothe made suddenly sound a lot better.  He had two big plays with his legs.  The first was when he impersonated a pinball, bouncing left, then right and completing a pass to Marcus Edwards for the first down.  The second was the game-defining play, outracing LB LeBrandon Glover to the pylon for the TD. 


General Observations

·        Alton Voss, Patrick Hampton, Calvin Sutton, Darren Poe, Charlton Sinclair as well as other recruits, were at the game.

·        Coach Stan Heath made an appearance with recruit 6'7 forward Orane Chin

·        Matt Huners was escorted to the locker-room on a stretcher with an ACL injury to his knee.

·        Taurus Johnson was making the most noise on the sidelines, trying to get into Matt Grothe's head, shouting "Yeah, Grothe! What, Grothe?!"

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