| 9 years ago||
Yesterday was the first time since he took over that I really questioned Matt Grothe as a quarterback. He made a lot of dumb decisions. On the bright side, Mike Jenkins showed why he's thought so highly of, and Dontavia Bogan played a pretty damn good game. And that last play was clearly pass interference, I had the game DVR'd and watched it when I got home, paused it when the ball was in the air, and the dude had Hester in a bear hug
til bogan got hurt and then sh*t was pretty much over... Mitchell is a burner but drops way too many balls...
It was there for everyone to see. At 6-0, the USF football team was far from perfect and not too far from mediocrity.
But the fall from grace has been quick and hard. From #2 BCS ranking to sharing the Big East cellar with Syracuse is a huge drop. Why didn't somebody provide a safety net to cushion this descent?
The Bulls spent 40 days in the USA/Today and AP polls as a member of the top 25. Now they are a feel good story turned painful, also gone from the BCS rankings.
USF is last in the Big East in red-zone offense (76%), first in fumbles lost (14) and second in interceptions (10). Does this explain part of the recent problems?
If its any consolation, the Bulls last two opponents, Connecticut and Cincinnati, are first and second respectively in redzone defense. Cincinnati also leads the conference with 21 interceptions and Connecticut is second with 19.
There is so much blame to go around. Quarterback Matt Grothe might be the easy target, but despite his critical interceptions the last two weeks it would be unfair to lay these three straight losses all at his feet.
Grothe does what he is asked to do and it is obvious he is asked too much. There is a lot of football talent in his body, but there are limitations, particularly with his arm. He can't launch a lazar throw that can squeeze a pass between defenders or drill one out to the sidelines without worry that a defender will take it back the other way.
Coaches have to help him instead of putting the offense on his back, hoping he will make things seem all-right.
It's time to make some changes in the offense. Head coach Jim Leavitt doesn't have to scrap the spread he has tried to make the cornerstone of his program, but needs to add some wrinkles. It would help to develop a running game that utilizes running backs.
The Bulls offense is all finesse. It doesn't pound defenses. It doesn't make them feel pain when a tackle is made. It doesn't wear out defenses the way a Ray Rice or Andre Dixon has done to USF.
Leavitt blames the lack of a run game on the blocking without addressing the scheme.
Several USF defensive players have questioned why USF rarely if ever runs from the I-formation.
Who has not heard people ask why Mike Ford at 6-2, 225 pounds, isn't utilized more. His 74 yards against Auburn is the second highest the Tigers have given up to a running back all season. He had 21 carries that game, which is the only time this season he had double digit rushing attempts.
Ford is big enough and strong enough to move piles, make defenders pay a price when they hit him and has good speed. With him in the game, defenses can't just solely concentrate on Grothe. Mix him in the right way with Jamar Taylor and Ben Williams and the Bulls should have a respectable run game.
Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory says the spread limits your options, particularly when a defense won't spread out with you.
"When the defense isn't necessarily willing to spread out with you, you have two choices," Gregory said. "You throw the ball or you run the quarterback because if you run the back they have an extra guy close in there so the running back has to block and the quarterback has to run."
Several Cincinnati players said the USF fumbles and blocked punt were not the result of luck, but by design. The Bearcats' Connor Barwin, who blocked Delbert Alvarado's punt, said his team had everything meticulously planned.
"We waited until they started their count and just rolled into it at perfect timing," Barwin said.. "Then all four of us got free on the big free shields and they just weren't ready for us. It opened up right when we thought it would."
Cincinnati safety Haruki Nakamura, who stripped the ball from A.J. Love and Grothe, has three forced fumbles for the Bearcats, who rank sixth in the country with 13 fumble recoveries.
"I just ripped the ball out of the receiver's hands (Love). I got the ball and was f!ghting. I was just trying to rip the ball and secure the tackle," Nakamura said. "The other one (Grothe) I was pursuing the ball and got a good hold of Grothe and just ripped the ball out of his hands."
Marcus Edwards has struggled as the punt returner with more than a few drops. He often doesn't judge the ball properly. In his fumble against Cincinnati, the ball hit him in the upper part of the left side of chest. He also doesn't pose much of a return threat back there and ranks 67th in the country, averaging 7.48 yards per return.
"I got down the field free and watched, and it came right to me. It was a lucky play for me. I was in the right place at the right time," said Barwin, who recovered Edwards fumble.
Mike Jenkins, who returned a kickoff 100 yards for a TD in his first career return opportunity , returned punts in high school and might be a viable option. He said he hasn't been asked to do that job.
The blocked punt was the third of the year for Cincinnati. Mike Mickens interception TD return was his fifth of the season, which ties him for the Big East lead. It was his second interception return for a touchdown this season.
Barwin said the trick receiver pass that set up Cincinnati's final touchdown and proved to be the difference in the final score was part of the game plan.
"We knew that if we wanted to win the Big East we had to win this game so we came prepared with whatever we had to do to win," he said.
Big plays, trick plays, you can't eliminate those and argue the Bulls should've won. A bigger question is what has happened with the trick plays the Bulls used under former offensive coordinator Rod Smith.
Gregory is garbage...