Hello Bull faithful.
Let's just say they don't call them trap games without good reason and while some of you are crying in your breakfast cereal this morning, the rest of you know that Saturday's 35-23 victory over Florida Atlantic was a GOOD win. It's very lonely at the top and while USC got burned at home, USF survived on the road against a team that had a lot of motivation and a good motivator.
In other words, this victory should be applauded, not criticised.
* Anytime a Florida team plays another Florida team expect a war. There's too much history between players, too many players were shunned by one Florida school and are playing with an extra chip on their shoulder. It's a tough battle week in and week out when there's that much speed and athleticism on one field.
* Howard Schnellenberger is one of the great coaches and motivators in college football history. What Jim Leavitt is doing now, Schnellenberger did 30 years ago with Miami and he, not Jimmy Johnson or Bobby Bowden, won the first college football national title in the state of Florida. Had he stayed at Miami and took advantage of the gold mine he created instead of taking big USFL money, he would have over 250 victories right now. There's a very good chance FAU will represent the Sun Belt in the bowl season due to Schnellenberger's leadership.
So a road victory against a motivated in-state team with a great coach.
This victory should be applauded.
And now, the grades.
QUARTERBACK (B): Matt Grothe had one slip up in the passing game and overthrew a sure touchdown. What he didn't do through the air he made up for with his 120 rushing yards. His 32-yard run on 4th and 3 are the sort of plays that winners make. A big-time play at a turning point in the game. He needs to continue to improve as a passer but Saturday was about the run.
RUNNING BACKS (A): The fumbles keep this from being an A+ but Benjamin Williams officially separated himself from the pack with a career-high 186 yards and four touchdowns. His 54-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter was the epitome of speed, toughness and great determination. Jamar Taylor fumbled early and an ankle injury kept him from returning. Mike Ford, who fumbled twice last week, did not get a carry. This is Williams' job for now and for the rest of the season if he can continue to produce.
WIDE RECEIVERS (C+): A few plays here and there and the numbers would be much bettter. That being said what this unit lacked in production they made up for with terrific downfield blocking that helped spawn big days for Grothe and Williams. Those are the little things that separate top five teams from top 25 teams. Cedric Hill had a couple of monster blocks while Amarri Jackson had six catches on mostly short routes.
OFFENSIVE LINE (A-): Hard to fault a 302-yard rushing performance. I felt like the Bulls' offensive line could wear down and eventually manhandle the Owls' smallish line in the run blocking game and they did. Pass blocking was another story and the only downfall of an otherwise strong game.
OFFENSIVE COACHING (B): This was nearing a "D" until Coach Gregory made some major adjustments and attacked Florida Atlantic up front where they were most vulnerable. The result was the first 100-yard rushers in the 2007 season. The offense hit its wall much earlier and broke out of it in a major way thanks to 28 second-half points. There are still many things to improve on as Amarri Jackson and Taurus Johnson need to be put in positions to make big plays.
DEFENSIVE LINE (C-): George Selvie got his sack but Richard Clebert saved this unit. The Bulls defensive line didn't play well at all, they were pushed around and took themselves out of position to make plays. This unit had been so consistent and disciplined it was surprising to see them make such silly mental mistakes.
LINEBACKERS (A-): Another stellar day for this unit as Ben Moffitt, Brouce Mompremier and Tyrone McKenzie were the Bulls' top three tacklers. Moffitt also broke up two passes and nearly had an interception. With the defensive line struggling the Bulls linebackers kept things from getting a lot worse. Mompremier was out of position and gave up a touchdown reception to Di'ivory Edgecomb but everything else was solid.
SECONDARY (C): Many of the secondary struggles can be placed on the defensive line's inability to get the pressure on the quarterback they are known for. Trae Williams recorded an interception but there were a lot of holes in the pass defense and too many big plays and third-down conversions.
SPECIAL TEAMS (B+): Delbert Alvarado went 5-for-5 on extra points averaged a very nice 43.2 yards per kick Jerome Murphy ripped off a decent return. Otherwise there wasn't much to speak of in the return game. Kick coverage was sufficient.
DEFENSIVE COACHING (C-): Not a good week for this unit. Second week in a row the Bulls have given up over 400 yards on offense and while FAU did a great job of keeping the Bulls off balance, they should have been able to adjust at halftime and shut this team down. The stop in the fourth quarter was nice and a good way to leave a final impression, but this was a battle.
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