South Florida coach Jim Leavitt was speechless after the Bulls’ defense held Houston to a single touchdown. The defense forced five sacks and recovered a pair of fumbles, both by safety J.R. Reed, including a 63-yard touchdown return for the game’s first score. Reed took his second fumble recovery 44 yards from a threatening Cougars drive at the USF 12-yard line. Reed also led the Bulls’ defense with 10 tackles. Reed now has recovered three fumbles on the year, to go along with four interceptions.
“I was fortunate to be around the ball,” Reed said. “I hustled and got there. We were going to do it regardless of whoever got it. I was blessed to get it.”
Sacking the record book
Chris Daley set a new USF record for single-season sacks with 8.5 by getting one in the first quarter. Daley left the game in the second half with a continuing problem with his ankle. Also adding to the strength of USF’s defense were two sacks from Shurron Pierson for the second week in a row. Joe Morgan and Cedric Battles also helped out with a sack each.
The final contributor in the sack column was senior Tchecoy Blount, who teamed up with Morgan to get in on his first sack of the season.
“It feels great. I went back to the line telling people that I finally popped my cherry,” Blount said.
In his post-game interview, Leavitt said he was extremely proud of how the Bulls “showed up” on all levels.
“All it says to the conference is that we are getting better, that we are building,” Leavitt said. “You know, Conference USA is a strong conference and nobody is going to worry much about South Florida yet.”
The Great Wall of Tampa
The Cougars got a good look at USF quarterback Marquel Blackwell’s arm Saturday, but the defense didn’t get much of an opportunity to get an up-close look at him behind the line – the Bulls’ offensive line didn’t give up a single sack to Houston.
“We’ve taken pride in ourselves. We haven’t been letting them in, especially as much as we pass,” right guard Jimmy Fitts said.
- Jarrett Guthrie