Bits & Bytes: WVU - USF

An eye-popping number, potential USF returnees and more records highlight this week's edition Game Scorecard
Thu 12/1/11 8:00 PM

Tampa, FL

Raymond James Stadium
Record: 8-3
BCS: 23
Last Game
Pitt W 21-20
Sirius\XM: 94\190
Record: 5-6
Last Game
Louisville L 24-34
Press Release
Season Stats
2011 Schedule

Series: Tied 3-3
First Meeting: 2005
Last Meeting: 2010
Press Release
Season Stats
2011 Schedule

Click for Tampa, Florida Forecast


The number is almost unbelievable. Three. That's the total number of yards USF has given up on punt returns this year. Not the average – total. Punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann has been stellar in placing the ball, putting 19 of his 58 boots inside the 20-yard line. He's also kicked the ball away from receivers, kicked it high, and generally not allowed returners the chance to catch the ball and run. Overall, just eight punts have been returned by USF opponents, with the longest going for just five yards.

If USF can continue this outstanding run against WVU, it will neutralize one of West Virginia's best weapons. The Mountaineers are averaging 12.2 yards per return, good for first in the league and 18th nationally. Will the Mountaineers, who again had trouble fielding the ball last week, go with two punt returners against the Bulls?


Last week, Stedman Bailey became the all-time single season yardage leader in receptions, passing David Saunders. This week, with 35 yards, Tavon Austin will also pass Saunders, who had 1,043 yards in 1996. Wonder when the last time was that two players broke a school single-season record in the same year?

Two other records could also fall this week. Austin is just 18 yards behind Steve Slaton for the single-season all-purpose yardage list, while Bailey is poised to pass Chris Henry and Darius Reynaud in single-season touchdown receptions. That duo each sits atop the list with 12, while "Steady B" has 11.


USF has made a bowl appearance in each of its six seasons in the Big East. It is the only school since 1998 to join a BCS league and make a bowl appearance in every seasons. That streak is in jeopardy, as the Bulls must defeat WVU in order to keep it alive.


Last week, we pointed out that Pitt scored more points early than late, while the Mountaineers did just the opposite. True to form, that's the way the game played out, as the Panthers scored 17 of their 20 points in the first half, while West Virginia tallied two of its three touchdowns after the break. The past is present, as USF is very similar to Pitt in terms of its scoring patterns. USF has scored 206 points in the first half this year, but just 118 in the second. It has held a halftime lead on seven of its 11 foes, and been tied with two others, but managed just five wins.

Conversely, WVU has gotten off to less than auspicious starts, scoring only 68 points in 11 first quarters this year. If the Mountaineers could manage to put up seven or ten points in the first quarter in Tampa, it would likely go a long way toward winning the game. Of course, ten points would be better than half of WVU's output in all but one of its six games against USF, as described in the following item.


West Virginia has scored more than 20 points against the Bulls just once – a 28-13 sin in the initial meeting between the two schools in 2005. Since then, the Mountaineers reached the 20 point mark once (in last year's 20-6 win) but have been held to 19 points twice and 13 points in two other meetings.


While a great deal of attention is focused on the playing status of USF quarterback B.J. Daniels, another Bull could return to action and have a similar positive effect for the home team. Wide receiver Sterling Griffin, who broke his ankle in the seventh game of the year against Cincinnati, has been practicing this week and hopes to play in the season finale.

The best measure of Griffin's effectiveness? Despite missing more than four games, he is still USF's leading receiver. Before being injured, he hauled in 40 passes for 493 yards – both of which are still tops on the team. His return would add yet another weapon for either Daniels or Bobby Eveld to target, as USF has no fewer than 19 players who have caught at least one pass.

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