Before today many state writers (mostly located in Orlando) criticized USF and head coach Jim Leavitt for not wanting to continue the series against UCF. They had some good points as the crowd interest was there, it was a short trip and an opportunity for both teams to make considerable profit.
However after Saturday's 64-12 shellacking, even Leavitt's most "vocal" critic, Orlando Sentinel's Mike Bianchi, has had enough.
"Let all of us who have pressured, prodded and pushed for USF to continue this annual series with UCF please cease and desist. And let everybody associated with UCF just be thankful that there is but one game left with USF."
Actually Mike, who is a great guy and good friend, only had one complaint about USF's new national status.
"They can't call themselves big time and run out of cookies in the press box."
Ok, he's got a point there.
On to the grades.
QUARTERBACK (A+): Matt Grothe had a Heisman-caliber day. Over 300 yards in total offense and four touchdowns. He had three touchdown passes dropped, he ran with authority and limited his mistakes. He's getting better every week. Grant Gregory threw some beautiful passes and looks like a reliable backup with a beautiful touchdown pass to Carlton Mitchell. However, the moment of the day belongs to Anthony Severino, who threw his first and possibly only touchdown pass of his career.
RUNNING BACKS (C+): Mike Ford ran well today and scored a touchdown but he put the ball on the ground (AGAIN) and had his carries limited to eight. Ben Williams made some great plays in the passing game and continues to be a versatile option. In the end the team's best runner with Grothe and he already got his grade. It would be nice for one of these talented backs to step up consistently, but it's not worth harping on anymore.
WIDE RECEIVERS (C): This grade is a little tough, but they cannot afford to drop touchdown passes EVER. The downfield blocking wasn't as good as it was last week either. It's easy to overlook simple mistakes in a game where the opponent is so overmatched, but dropping touchdown passes against Rutgers or Cincinnati or UConn isn't going to be an option.
OFFENSIVE LINE (B+): Pass protection was excellent, run blocking was good. The holding calls were kept to a minimum overall and I didn't see any one plan where a linemen just got blown up unlike last week. Good job for the unit.
OFFENSIVE COACHING (A+): I'm hard on coach Gregory so I have to give him props when the team scores 64 points and gains well over 500 yards. Some of the play calls were beautiful, especially the touchdown pass to Cedric Hill where everyone and their mother went to the right and Hill quietly slipped out to the open field on the left. Brilliant day for the offensive coaching staff.
DEFENSIVE LINE (A+): 11 tackles for loss from this unit, and four sacks, three from Aaron Arris. This unit applied the sort of pressure that the great defensive lines on the great teams in college football history. Oh yeah, George Selvie had another sack and things could've been worse had the official called some of the blatant holds.
LINEBACKERS (B): This unit, usually my highest grade, had a nice walk in the park thanks to the yeoman's work of the defensive line. 10 tackles and 2 TFL for the unit's first team. It was a good day but they were able to take it easy.
SECONDARY (A+): Mike Jenkins had an interception and led the team in tackles. Both the first and second units completely locked down the UCF receivers. While the defensive line contributed to the great day, the pass coverage was dominating.
SPECIAL TEAMS (A+): Delbert Alvarado was 10-for-10 on kicks and finished with a fantasy-friendly 14 points. He also averaged over 43 yards per punt and pinned UCF deep on what eventually became a safety. Both Taurus Johnson and Amarri Jackson broke returns of over 30 yards.
DEFENSIVE COACHING (A+): The defense shut down the nation's leading rusher and held the Knights to under 150 yards. The Knights' longest play -- a 42-yard reception by Kevin Smith was a busted play. This was a banner day for both sides of the ball and a victory everyone should be very proud of.
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