USFNation Game Grades: USF at UCF

The USF football team had to withstand a fourth quarter rally by the Knights, but still came out with a 31-24 in front of a raucous crowd at Bright House Stadium Saturday. Find out how the staff at USFNation graded the Bulls performance in their first road test of 2008. Only on USFNation.com

Whew, that was close and it's proof that special teams can make or break you. USF out-gained UCF over 2-to-1. Also it's amazing what home-field advantage can do for a team. Nonetheless USF wins the fourth and final contest against its cross-town opponents (it's not a rivalry) and the Bulls can now move on to bigger and better things.

 

QUARTERBACKS (B+)Matt Grothe is a hell of a competitor. We already knew that. And for the second time in three years he was the difference against UCF by throwing for over 300 yards (he threw for 302 yards in the 23-16 victory over the Knights in 2006). He was also able to bounce back from a late interception that got UCF back in the game to break their collective hearts with a third-down strike in overtime to win it. All in all, the junior had 400 total yards of offense on 63 touches. That's a LOT of touches (20 carries) considering how well the running backs did behind him.

 

RUNNING BACKS (B) – The running backs gained 104 yards on 24 carries. That's a respectable 4.3 yards per carry. Moise Plancher got his first start for the injured Mike Ford and I thought he performed well enough to make me wonder what Benjamin Williams and Jamar Taylor will be able to do with reduced opportunities. Richard Kelly also did some tough running on the inside. I would have liked to see what Plancher could have done with 10 more carries because this team can run the ball effectively.

 

WIDE RECEIVERS (A) – Holy smokes these guys are good. 10 players recorded a catch led by Taurus Johnson's monster game (six catches, 143 yards, one touchdown) and Cedric Hill's two touchdown grabs. Grothe has always shown a willingness to ignore numbers and find the open men and these guys do a great job of getting open. Forget best in the Big East, I'd put USF's receivers among the top ten in the nation. The downfield blocking was good at times but the playmaking is what made this unit the best of the week.

 

OFFENSIVE LINE (C+) – UCF blitzed a bit and the line wasn't always prepared for it. Giving up three sacks will occasionally happen because oftentimes the line is blocking for someone who moves around so much he's bound to occasionally walk into danger. The large number of tackles for loss surprises and disappoints me. I expected a little better from this unit despite the big numbers on offense.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE (C) – They didn't record any sacks and only one tackle for loss (Craig Marshall), but they didn't let much get pass them either. They completely shut down any hopes of UCF establishing a good running game but just didn't have that handful of game-changing plays we're used to. We're going to need them to get on track this week.

 

LINEBACKERS (B-)Tyrone McKenzie carried the front seven this week with seven tackles and two tackles for loss. He is quickly making a case to be among the front-runners for all-conference honors. Meanwhile Brouce Mompremier and Kion Wilson looked lost at times. Again the defense as a whole kept UCF off balance all night but that offense is very inept and run by a terrible quarterback. If UCF had at least an average quarterback things might have been worse.

 

SECONDARY (B) – Jerome Murphy has really good tackling abilities and is doing a much better job of keeping the plays in front of him. Nate Allen had a typical game for his ability and Carlton Williams provides extra support in the backfield. I thought Tyler Roberts would have a big game, he didn't, and as a matter of fact he struggled a little bit as well. No turnovers for this bunch this week and given who they were facing that's got to be a disappointment.

 

SPECIAL TEAMS (F) – I'd make it an ‘H' if I could. Forget Alvarado's non-ability in the clutch, we already knew he wasn't going to make that field goal. The kick coverage was awful and going into the game most people knew that the only way UCF was going to compete was with big plays on defense or special teams. Why kick it to Joe Burnett? He's the best player on their team and his returns were responsible for 14 points. This is a group that needs plenty of work this week.

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