Bulls take it to the ground
The Bulls offense finally found a groove against
"We wanted to establish a running game," said Head Coach Jim Leavitt.
The Bulls did just that. The most promising aspect was that the Bulls committed to the run and pounded the rock 56 times for 346 yards. The 346 yards is the third best total in program history. The school record is 377 vs. Florida A&M in 2005 during the Andre Hall years. Of the 56 runs called by Coach Gregory, only 14 were by QB Matt Grothe who also threw for an efficient 182 yards and had two scores.
"Well in our three losses we haven't been able to run the ball as well as we wanted to," said senior center Nick Capogna. "We've definitely been throwing the ball 50 times a game and you're not going to be a spread offense doing that. You get one dimensional. You have to have balance and you have to establish the run from the get go every single game. That was the main key in this game because we have a tendency to get away from the run. That was the main key to get it established and keep it rolling."
RUN FORD RUN
Bull's fans finally got want they've been wanting since game two at
Williams, Ford finally got the nod, and he didn't disappoint. After a fumble on the opening kick-off, on the second play from scrimmage, Ford took the handoff and rumbled 19 yards to the
"I thought Mike Ford ran pretty well today," said Coach Leavitt. "His ribs had been hurting badly. It had been so bad that we held him out on Thursday at practice."
Pretty well is a bit of an understatement. Ford was a work horse, carrying the ball 28 times for 135 yards and scoring two TD's in the game. He now has nine TD's on the season, eight rushing. Ford finished the game with 135 yards rushing, marking the first 100-yard rushing game of his career.
"He did a lot today. He had an outstanding game," said QB Matt Grothe. "I think everyone knows he can do that. He got his opportunity today and he showed what he can do."
Ford not only ran well but showed he is Ford tough and delivered some key blocks in the game. Giving Grothe more time to throw and run, and also had a crushing block to help spring Aston Samuels on his 75 yard run.
On the first play of the 2nd quarter at the Bulls 22 yard line, Freshman RB Ashton Samuels who only had 42 career rushing yards entering the game, came in and lined up at flanker. He then took the handoff and like lightning rushed to the right for a 75-yard, his longest of his career.
It looked like the speedy Samuels was going to score as he has done numerous times in practice when he gets in open field, but was chased down by Davis Dowayn at the Orange 3-yard line.
"I didn't see him," said Samuels. "I slowed down at the 10-yard line and I was in cruise control from there. I didn't think anyone was around me. I just got caught in the moment. Some of teammates are poking fun at me about it."
The run was the longest run of the year, topping 54-yard runs by Jamar Taylor and Ben Williams earlier this season, and It is also the longest non-scoring run in school history. Later in the second quarter, Samuels lined up as right flanker and went in motion left and bused a 26-yard run to the Syracuse 27 that led to a Grothe to Mitchell score. The run gave Samuels 101, reaching the 100 yard rushing mark for the first time in his career.
This is the second time this season that USF had two players rush for 100-yards in the same game. The other was when Matt Grothe and Ben Williams did it at FAU, and the electric back say's a lot has to do with the line.
"They played one of their best games. How many yards did Mike Ford have?" said Samuels. "The offensive line did their job and that's all we ask them to do.
The Bull's defense held Syracuse to 15 yards rushing on 17 carries, and that's not a typo. It's the lowest rushing total against the Bulls D by a Division I-A opponent. Even though the Orange isn't exactly a juggernaut, it's still quite a feat.
"Our defense did a great job," said Leavitt. "That young QB they have has a lot of talent. He does a lot of things well."
George Selvie got things going early with three tackles for loss on Syracuse's first two drives with one being a sack, and then watched most of the second half on the sidelines.
"Our first goal was to stop the run, and we did that. Then we had to get some pressure on the quarterback. That's what we wanted to do."
Selvie now has an impressive 30.5 tackles for loss, only 1.5 TFL's short of the NCAA record, to go with his 14.5 sacks. Not bad for a sophomore who almost played center.
"I just come out to play hard for my seniors. We just come out and play hard and today everybody showed up. We just had a great game overall."
Cry me a Yellow river
The Bulls might have set a school record with 585 yards, but that was in spite of yellow flags that littered the field Saturday. The Bulls were flagged Sixteen times for 144 yards. The O-line was flagged 8 times, but two times the penalty was declined, with Ryan Schmidt's number getting called three times. False starts and holding were rampant and very evident after Samuels run to the 3 yard line when the Bulls were facing a third and goal. The Bulls were flagged for a false start twice in a row with one coming after a Syracuse time out. Then facing a 3rd and goal from the 11, a touchdown to Marcus Edwards was nullified due to an offensive pass interference call against Taurus Johnson.
The Bulls still came out with a decisive victory and set a school record in offensive yardage. But this was Syracuse, and if the Bulls are truly to compete with the big boys, they can't have games where they give up 145 yards to penalties.
Whats my O-line?
The Bulls beleaguered offensive line has been fighting through injuries and lots of line shuffling held more then it's own against the Orange. Even though they got flagged a bunch of time for various penalties, they didn't give up a sack.
"We're a different group. The guys I play with, we are all odd balls, but we are interchangeable," said Center Nick Capogna. "We rotated eight or nine guys in today, but still managed to play together."
The O-line is also a big reason why the Bulls set a school record for offensive yards against Syracuse.
"They've done a good job all year long," said Matt Grothe. "We had some guys come in that needed to step up and they did a really good job. It shows in the stats. We scored 41 points and had over 500 yards in total offense. So when we're moving the ball like we are shows well on our offensive line."
Delbert's doing it: Kicker Delbert Alvarado hit field goals of 42 and 33 yards in the first half, and extended his streak of consecutive successful field goal attempts to six
Mitchell is a playmaker: Freshman WR Carlton Mitchell continued to shine with his third TD of the season in the second quarter. Mitchell accounted for five of the first six receptions by the Bulls and finished with 6 catches for 61 yards and a score.
First time the charm: Junior Safety Carlton Williams forced his first career fumble late in the second quarter. On that play linebacker Brouce Mompremier recovered his first career fumble on the play. Defensive back Dylan Douglas recovered his first career fumble on special teams coverage on the opening kickoff.
All it takes is one win
Through out the Bulls three game skid, it seamed like all the Bulls needed something to break out of the funk. That something was a win. Just what the doctor ordered and something the Bulls haven't had in what seems like an eternity.
"It sure helps with the ride home." said LB Ben Moffitt. "It always helps to get a little bit more confidence."
This was a game the Bulls needed, and had to have. They accomplished a lot of things that they wanted to do. Establish a run, practice ball control, reduce turnovers and score points. Except for the penalties, it was a good all around game and just what could get them back on track.
"This was a big, motivating game for us, preparing us for the last two games of the season," said QB Matt Grothe. "We have our last home game next week against Louisville. We have to finish out our home games well. This was a good win for us and we need to finish strong the last two games."
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