NORMAN, Okla. Ã± Penalties can be the bane of any coachÃs existence. For USF, the number and yards continue to mount.
Against Oklahoma Saturday, USF committed 15 infractions for a loss of 124 yards and increased its sorrow with three turnovers, providing the Sooners with more than enough chances to earn a 31-14 victory.
Ã¬We made a lot of mistakes on ourselves,Ã® USF sophomore Derrick Sarosi said. Ã¬Some things we practice every single day Ã± the little things Ã± is what killed us tonight. I thought we matched up very well with their front four and linebackers. The penalties and MAs, missed assignments, they just killed us. Shot ourselves in the foot. We were running with them for a while.
Ã¬You canÃt turn the ball over three or four times to the No. 2 team in the nation,Ã® Sarosi said. Ã¬It doesnÃt work like that. YouÃre just giving it to them, and thatÃs what they capitalize on.Ã®
The penalties have been piling up for the Bulls in 2002. USFÃs 15 fouls against Oklahoma were two shy of the school record, and through four games, the Bulls have been whistled 46 times for a loss of 363 yards. The Bulls are on pace to easily break team records for penalties and yards.
Ã¬This is what we talk about and drill it into them,Ã® USF coach Jim Leavitt said. Ã¬WeÃre benching people, all of those things are happening. WeÃre running people, and if itÃs too bad, we sit them. And weÃll keep doing that Ãtil itÃs corrected, and if itÃs never corrected, weÃll lose.Ã®
Penalties are always crushing, but USF has been adept at using them to stifle big plays recently.
Against Arkansas, Kawika MitchellÃs fake punt carry down to the 4-yard line was called back for not having enough men on the line of scrimmage. Versus the Sooners, Leavitt again dipped into his bag of tricks, calling for a double pass. Quarterback Marquel Blackwell was to hit wide-out Brian Fisher on a lateral, and the former quarterback at Pine Forest High School in Pensacola connected with running back DeJuan Green for a 37-yard score that would have put USF ahead 7-0.
Unfortunately for Leavitt, BlackwellÃs pass to Fisher was a forward pass, negating FisherÃs touchdown strike.
To compound problems, the Bulls then incurred a 15-yard personal foul call, pushing USF all the way back to its own 39 for a third-and-27.
Oklahoma capitalized in an instant, immediately swinging the momentum in its favor. After an incompletion, USF was forced to punt, and Antonio Perkins returned the kick 82 yards for the gameÃs first score.
Ã¬We would have been up 7-0, and we would have been more confident,Ã® Fisher said. Ã¬It took a lot of steam out of us.Ã®
USFÃs penalties forced the Bulls into numerous precarious positions. While the Bulls were able to outgain the Sooners 328-239, USF had four third downs of 19 yards or more to gain in the first half alone, aiding the OU defense, as the Sooners pitched a shutout for 58 minutes before Ronnie Banks fired two touchdown passes in the final two minutes to make the final score 31-14.
Ã¬WeÃre always talking about the little things,Ã® senior Kawika Mitchell said. Ã¬Little things will kill you. Ã All those little mistakes will eventually take you down.Ã®
Personal fouls seemed to be USFÃs penalty of choice after the Bulls were whistled for four 15-yarders in the first quarter against Arkansas to aid the Razorbacks as they built a 21-0 advantage.
The Sooners gained some assistance when USF was flagged for another personal foul deep in its own territory.
The Bulls followed up that transgression with a pass interference call to turn a first-and-10 at the 17 into a first-and-goal at the 2. Redshirt freshman Kejuan Jones carried home the ball from there two plays later to give Oklahoma a 28-0 lead.
Ã¬Coach Stoops came up to me after the game and said, ÃWe both know you out-played us,ÃÃ® Leavitt said. Ã¬And I said, ÃNo we didnÃt because we made too many mistakes.ÃÃ®