Well that was a pretty good game eh? First of all, much credit to Kansas and the fans that made the trek from Lawrence to come to town. The Jayhawks are a heck of a football team and all the Kansas fans I came across were fun people who were just as excited as USF fans were about the game. Many times I don't get a chance to compliment the road fans but in this case I will, they were cool coming into the game and leaving the game.
However only one can win and whaddya know, it was the Bulls again. And on to the grades:
QUARTERBACK (A): Sometimes Matt Grothe takes a little too much on his shoulders and when it was 20-3 it seemed like we were headed down that road again. But this was a different Grothe, an older Grothe, who made all the right choices in the final three quarters. When the run wasn't there, he ate the ball, when it was he ran as hard as he ever has. This was the best passing game he's had in his career and his ability to get the crowd and defense back in the game was another indication of his leadership. Being a Lake Gibson graduate like Grothe, I'm admittedly bias but nonetheless proud of that young man. It was a special performance and one that USF fans should hold close to their hearts for a long time.
RUNNING BACK (B): Jamar Taylor where have you been? He seems to always show up on Friday nights but last Friday was even more crucial because they had no other running options. Coach Leavitt said that he had never seen Taylor run so hard before. His third-quarter runs were the combination of power and speed that I saw from the sophomore while he and Chris Rainey were sharing a backfield at Lakeland High. Hopefully we won't have to wait until the next Friday game to see it again.
WIDE RECEIVERS (A-): When you pass for 338 yards the receivers are going to have a huge game and they did. Taurus Johnson and Jessie Hester grabbed seven catches apiece, Johnson had the big touchdown to tie the game at 20-20 and A.J. Love caught a beautiful over the shoulder pass to give the Bulls a 34-20 lead. They only had one play over 35 yards, but they were getting open underneath and answered the call when the passing game needed to work.
OFFENSIVE LINE (B): Despite this unit becoming banged up a little earlier than expected they continue to hold together nicely. The run blocking was a little rough at first but they gained confidence behind Taylor's running and once Grothe got hot with the passing game the group became a unified wall.
DEFENSIVE LINE (B-): Well this is interesting. On one hand they got a lot of pressure early but it played into Kansas' hands as they were doing a lot of short passing and the linemen rushing up field so fast took them out of the play. However, things corrected themselves in the second half George Selvie got a huge sack that energized the crowd and Aaron Harris got another one that Jarriett Buie applied the pressure on. The pressure by the defensive line led to Todd Reesing's only mistake.
LINEBACKERS (C-): These guys have to tackle better. They obviously love to hit, but tackles are not made with shoulders. Once Kion Wilson learns how to wrap a ball carrier up he'll be a very good player. Nothing great from this unit, quite a few mistakes and failures to contain are the reasons for the lower grade.
SECONDARY (D): Hmmm. It was an F for the first 59+ minutes and an A for the last 40 seconds. Tyller Roberts had a rough day outside of a big hit. He looked lost and he continues to bite on very simple routes that he shouldn't. Even Nate Allen made a couple of rare mistakes, but of course he made up for them with a huge play. Jerome Murphy had a quality game as did Carlton Williams.
SPECIAL TEAMS (A-): Maikon Bonani's first field goal attempt was embarassing and Delbert Alvarado's first punt was awful. But both guys bounced back and showed a lot of character in how they handled things during the game. I would love for the Bulls to get more out of the return game but it's still early in the season. As for Bonani's game-winner in his first game as a Bull in front of a nationally-televised audience? That took onions.
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