Well now we'll know who the real fans are.
As I told Josh on a phone call Sunday, "I hope there are more than 25,000 fans in the seats Saturday."
Part of me was joking. I expect 40-45,000 to show up but part of me is concerned because Tampa has such a poor reputation of being a bandwagon city.
However, after two losses on the long, hard road to the northeast, the Bulls need its fans more than ever to turn this thing around.
While USF might need several scenarios to happen in order to represent the Big East in the Bowl Championship Series, there are still lots of things to play for.
A top 10 finish for one.
A berth in the Gator Bowl against an ACC or Big 12 team for another.
An 10-win season (11 with a bowl victory) would make the 2007 Bulls the best in the state of Florida. And don't think recruits wouldn't notice that.
So wipe the tears off your face and let's get back in the game. No one is going to feel sorry for South Florida.
On to the grades:
QUARTERBACK (B): Matt Grothe rushed for a career-high 146 yards and accounted for over 300 total yards again. Unfortunately he made two horrible passes that proved to be the difference in the game. One was returned for a touchdown and one ruined what should have been an impressive scoring drive. I don't completely blame Grothe for some of those plays. It's got to be tough to take the sort of pounding he takes through the running game and still sit back in the pocket and read defenses while still clearing the cobwebs.
RUNNING BACKS (B+): Jamar Taylor broke a 54-yard run, Benjamin Williams broke one for over 20 and Mike Ford even added an 11-12 yard gain. So WHY does coach Gregory insist on giving the quarterback 25 carries? I have no answer to this, especially when it looked like ONE of these running backs could have given the Bulls a big game.
WIDE RECEIVERS (C): Amarri Jackson was injured in the first half, taking away another big-play threat. Jessie Hester (6 catches, 50 yards) ran some nice routes and made good grabs. Cedric Hill was having a nice game as well with three catches and a nice long gainer, but in the 4th quarter had a killer holding penalty and then dropped a a sure TD in the end zone 2 plays later. Dontavia Bogan seems to have caught the eye of Grothe, but he was well covered on that 4th down pass. The receivers did the best they could with two of the big-play guys out of the game.
OFFENSIVE LINE (B): The pass protection wasn't as bad as a week ago and the run blocking was pretty strong. Obviously UConn doesn't bring the sort of pressure that Rutgers does, but the big guys up front gave an inspired performance and worked hard.
OFFENSIVE COACHING (D): Take the LSAT test and if you fudge up one of the sections, you basically fail the whole process regardless of scores in the other three sections. Well Coach Gregory fudged up the "goal line" play calling section and that lost the game. When you have 2nd and goal at the 1 you do NOT call a play that forces the quarterback to give up yardages. ESPECIALLY on third down. The bootleg call was the worst call of the season. If the Bulls try to pound up the gut for the yard and fail, credit the UConn defense, but the offensive playcalling handed the Huskies this game.
DEFENSIVE LINE (C): Eh. George Selvie woke up the pass rush again but the power running game continue to give the Bulls' front four a serious amount of trouble. RIchard Clebert didn't record a tackle and had a tough game overall. He is the primary line of defense against the power run offense. Aaron Harris and Woody George combined for a sack as well.
LINEBACKERS (C): Tyrone McKenzie, Brouce Mompremier and Ben Moffitt led the team in tackles but they didn't make many plays as they were generally cleaning up for the defensive line's failure to tackle Andre Dixon. With the unit's responsibility to stop the run increasing it was difficult to make the sort of momentum-changing plays that the Bulls are used to seeing.
SECONDARY (B-): Trae Williams recorded an interception. He and Mike Jenkins generally kept everything in front of them as UConn quarterback Tyler Lorenzen made several completions to the running backs and tight ends and smartly stayed away from challenging the Bulls' talented cornerbacks. Nate Allen and Carlton Williams were among the team's leaders in tackles.
SPECIAL TEAMS (C-): Jerome Murphy's blocked punt keeps this grade from bordering on an 'F'. Delbert Alvarado missed two field goals in the first quarter and proved that he cannot be trusted to make a kick when it's needed. He did make two field goals but if he makes the ones in the first quarter it could be a different ball game. Missing a 26-yard kick is inexcusable.
DEFENSIVE COACHING (C): Coach Burnham and his staff did an excellent job of making second-half adjustments to keep the Bulls in the game. Unfortunately the first-half gameplan was disasterous and put the team behind the eight ball. It was a tough loss and a tough day for a defense that loves to make game-changing plays.
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