Thursday nightmare continues for Bulls
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 00:09
The Thursday night curse looks like it is alive and well for the USF football team.
For the eighth time in school history, the Bulls owned the prime time Thursday night national stage, and for the eighth time, the Bulls lost. A defensive battle was decided by five turnovers by the Bulls, including three key interceptions from senior quarterback B.J. Daniels, as USF fell 23-13 to Rutgers.
“I'm certainly disappointed to come back home and lose,” head coach Skip Holtz said, “This game really boiled down to the fact that we turned the ball over five times, and we couldn't get off the field on third down.”
Though Daniel's was credited for all three interceptions, the final two came off the hands of intended receivers Demetris Murray and Evan Landi. The third interception came when Landi looked to have scored a touchdown, but the pass popped out and was caught by senior safety Wayne Warren. Holtz was visibly frustrated after the game, and said the team needs to take better care of the football.
“We cannot turn the ball over. We have too many guys who are playing too hard to take care of the ball the way that we have.” he said, “The ball is so important they named this game after it, it's the only thing that matters. I'm frustrated as a coach, and you feel like you keep fighting to get out of a hole that you keep digging yourself.”
Despite an early start to the conference season, with the Bulls opening their Big East slate in week three rather than week five in the previous two years, USF was unable to get a head start in conference play. The loss drops USF to an 0-1 Big East start for the third straight year
“I don't believe there's a curse, I don't believe there's a cloud, I don't believe in that. Our curse was that we turned the ball over four times,” Holtz said, “There's no talk, there's no black cloud, there's no Rutgers has our number, it's about us going out and executing in ways that allow our players a chance to win, because they're playing too hard not to have a chance to win.”
Daniels was harassed all night by a Rutgers defense that according to offensive coordinator Todd Fitch “looks to confuse you”. The senior was forced to run 15 times, gaining 68 yards, along with 242 yards through the air.
“Obviously it wasn't the night we wanted, some of it was mistakes made by him, some was a result of what was going on around him,” said offensive coordinator Todd Fitch, “Obviously it wasn't the kind of productivity he wanted or we wanted.”
After tying the game at 13 on a strong fourth quarter drive, the USF defense was unable to hold the Knights, allowing them to go 52 yards in six plays, eventually holding them to a field goal, giving Rutgers a 16-13 advantage. Two plays after an incomplete pass on 4th and four from the 41 yard line, running back Jawan Jamison iced the game with a 41 yard touchdown run and 23-13 lead.
With their first loss of the Big East season on the board, the Bulls will head back to out of conference play, traveling to Indiana to take on the Ball State Cardinals. The game will be followed by a return home to take on the Florida State Seminoles.