USFNation Game Grades: USF vs Cincinnati

Three weeks ago the Bulls were No. 2 with very high hopes, but Saturday's 38-33 loss to Cincy, their 3rd in a row, now has them searching for answers. Now see how the staff at USFNation graded each position's performance.

QUARTERBACK (D-): Possibly the worst game I've seen Grothe play since last year's game against Cincinnati. Of his five turnovers, three of them happened with the Bulls in scoring position with the most damaging being the pick six in the first quarter (his second in as many games) and the interception in the end zone where he and the wide receiver were not on the same page. It's a culmination of a rough stretch in the last few weeks where Grothe has been asked to do everything for this offense. Right now Grothe has a Brett Favre mentality and not the 2007 Brett Favre. He is making poor reads, poor passes and struggling to keep possession of the ball. While he is in control of his mistakes on the field, the game plan he is being saddled with is contributing to his errors. That being said the quarterback showed a lot of guile to hang in there despite mistake after mistake and almost lead the team to victory.


RUNNING BACKS (C-): Benjamin Williams had an excellent day in the receiving game but he lost a fumble. Jamar Taylor lost a fumble as well and Mike Ford was basically invisible. The running backs had 14 touches for 23 yards.


WIDE RECEIVERS (B-): Considering how banged up this unit is and Grothe's poor day, I thought the guys who did play did an admirable job. Carlton Mitchell stepped up like he promised and caught seven passes for over 100 yards and almost capped the comeback with an incredible catch but alas it wasn't meant to be. Jessie Hester didn't do much in the first half but finished with three catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Courtney Denson was needed for extended time and he performed well at times with three catches for 40 yards.


OFFENSIVE LINE (C): At times they looked overmatched against a pretty decent Cincinnati defensive scheme, at other times they played well. Overall they held up as best they good and provided good pass protection for the most part, especially on plays where the pocket was moving.


OFFENSIVE COACHING (D): Coach Gregory went into panic mode at the end of the first quarter despite having six timeouts and 45 minutes remaining in the game. No more short passes, no running game, just hurry up and sling the ball around. He put the entire game on Grothe's shoulders AGAIN and the Bulls lost AGAIN. It sounds like a broken record because it keeps happening. How can things improve? Let's start by installing a screen pass in the offense, attempting more high-percentage passes until the receivers get healthy and try to work the running backs into the offense since they have scholarships.


DEFENSIVE LINE (B-): The defensive line made some plays, especially on short yardage against the run but failed to put the pressure on Cincinnati quarterback Ben Mauk. At times they over pursued and Mauk made them pay. Other times they missed tackles. They missed way too many tackles. George Selvie was a monster with four tackles for loss and a forced fumble despite constant double teams.


LINEBACKERS (B): Tyrone McKenzie, Brouce Mompremier and Ben Moffitt led the team in tackles with six solo stops apiece. Moffitt also recovered a fumble. Not much to say about the group. They were out of position on occasion but did a good job otherwise.


SECONDARY (B+): Obviously the long touchdown in the first half hurt but that was a great play by the wide receiver and the defensive backs bit on the gimmick play at the end of the first half. Trae Williams got the game off to a good start with a pick six that fired up the third largest crowd in USF history. Mike Jenkins had at least two vicious hits and a kickoff return for a touchdown.  The momentum didn't last and despite the fact that the Bulls secondary was in position to make every play, the Cincinnati receivers got all the breaks. It happens sometimes.


SPECIAL TEAMS (C): Split this right down the middle. Delbert Alvarado was excellent, 2-for-2 on field goals that kept USF in the game. He did have a punt blocked but that's more a blame on protection. The kickoff return game was terrific with Jenkins' touchdown as the highlight but Marcus Edwards muffed a punt after an impressive Bulls defensive stand. The punt defense squad had a GOLDEN opportunity to drill and destroy Cincinnati punter Kevin Huber but they fell for the pump fake and let him run for a first down.


DEFENSIVE COACHING (B-): Big plays killed an otherwise excellent performance for the defense. They gave up seven points in the last three quarters and yielded only two legitimate scoring drives, one of which came on a lucky pass play that the receiver showed incredible concentration. The defense showed incredible fight to keep the Bearcats off the board and give the offense chance after chance after chance after chance to get back in the game. 

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