I'm back like a vertabrae.
What happened to me? Well I was a little distraught over USF's lastest production which will now be known as "Midseason Tankjob II" or "October" and wondering how exciting a holiday season in St. Petersburg will be for the USF faithful. And trust me, after dealing with the World Series, the apathy for USF-Rice in the St. Petersburg Bowl will equal that of the Devil Rays 2002 season.
Still, despite the disappointment and crushing reality of no Big East title, no BCS Bowl, no offseason travel plan and a crappy bowl opponent there is much to play for...I just can't think of it right now.
Yes, I'm bitter...although Election Day made up for some of it.
Ok, so why is "Midseason Tankjob II a.k.a. October" happening again. I've got a few reasons.
-- It's not easy replacing three defensive leaders, one of which was a first-round selection as a future shut down cornerback. I'm not going to get into Tyller Roberts' issues in the defensive backfield, but believe me when I say bad play is contagious and the former All-America candidate Nate Allen is a perfect example of that.
-- Losing Dan McCarney was a death blow to this program. Not only is he among the best defensive line coaches in the nation, but his knowledge could not be replaced on the staff. This isn't to say the defensive line has been a problem, quite the contrary actually. But McCarney was a former head coach and a decent one. He brought a lot to the table besides his position coaching. So you lose three defensive captains and the most experienced assistant coach on the roster.
-- The offensive staff is overmatched. Obviously coach Gregory is going to take the blunt of this criticism and, with no knowledge of the program, I'm going to say that I'd be shocked if he was in the same position in 2009. In order for this program to go to the next level they have to get a better, more successful offensive coordinator that can make in-game adjustment and attract better talent.
-- This team is tired. I don't know if it's overall conditioning or if the practices are too strenuous but this team goes through a stretch of the season where they are quickly exhausted. That should happen with a schedule where there are two 15+ day rests in between games.
-- This is a horrible road team. That's probably more mental than anything but, again, road games are part of the season and unless they win more, this won't be the last St. Petersburg Bowl berth.
Ok. That wasn't fun. So let's talk about this week.
First seven Mike Teel games:
58.7 Completion Pct., 3 TD, 7 INT
Last two Mike Teel games
69.4 Completion Pct., 9 TD, 3 INT
Don't ask me what happened, my coaching contact at Rutgers resigned last year. My first guess would be new contacts or maybe he was told that his sixth-round projection by Mel Kiper wasn't guaranteed with a 7-21 TD-to-Interception ratio. Whatever happened, it's safe to say that Teel wants to lead the Scarlet Knights to a bowl and that makes this is a must win for him.
When USF Has the Ball: Time to score. This is not a class Greg Schiano defense and they can be scored on. North Carolina threw up 44 points back in September and Pittsburgh gained close to 500 yards in a losing effort three weeks ago. The points and yards are there if this team wants them. The glaring weakness on this team is the secondary where they are missing coach Chris Demarest big time this season. I expect Matt Grothe to have a strong game this week. The Scarlet Knights are also weak against a strong power running game in case USF decides to use the running backs this week.
He Said It: ""We're excited to be playing. It's not a lot of fun to sit back and watch everyone else play. We're healthier than we have been and I think it's going to be a heck of a ball game."
I Said It: Win this week or find a LOT of empty seats next Sunday for UConn.