In the middle of a 41-9 blowout against No.15 Louisville, at least one spot on the USF football team seemed up for grabs. Like last season, the Bulls still don’t look settled at the quarterback position.
It was nearing the end of the third quarter and the Cardinals had just kicked a field goal to go up 41-3.
By this time, USF quarterback Pat Julmiste was having one of his worst games as a Bull — he completed just one of his first 16 passes — so USF coach Jim Leavitt threw in backup quarterback Ronnie Banks.
But Banks could not provide the spark Leavitt was looking for. On second and 14 from the USF 48 yard line, Banks’ first pass attempt, he was picked off by Antoine Harris. The senior was pulled after the interception.
Without a late touchdown pass to freshman Johnnie Peyton, Julmiste was two for 19 passing for 10 yards and one interception. It was his first start on national television.
“Our offense obviously didn’t move the ball well enough,” said Leavitt. “Pat (Julmiste) struggled. He didn’t throw it well.”
USF has used multiple quarterbacks in all but one game this season. In a press conference after the game, Leavitt assured reporters Julmiste is still the starting quarterback.
USF’s quarterback problem is a continuation from 2003, where the Bulls averaged 177 yards passing per game with only 12 passing touchdowns. That year, the Bulls struggled to replace former starter Marquel Blackwell, who led the Bulls to 252 yards passing per game with 20 passing touchdowns in 2002. Last year the Bulls had only 12 interceptions compared to five in 2002.
The Bulls have nine interceptions a little more than halfway through this season.Louisville (5-1, 3-0 in Conference USA) had no problem moving the ball on USF’s reeling defense. Stefan Lefors, who entered the game second in the nation in passing efficiency, showed why he has been successful early. Lefors completed his first 13 passes and didn’t slow down much. He opened scoring when he threw a crossing pass to Adam McCauley. Lefors threw for a touchdown and ran for one while completing 21 of 26 passes for 242 yards.
The Bulls’ defense has given up just over 32 points per game this season. Injuries and youth continue to plague the team.
“Obviously Louisville is a better team than us,” Leavitt said. “We beat them last year and they beat us this year. It doesn’t matter how you win or lose. You lose, or you win. We’re excited about continuing to play them because it’s such a good football team. We’re anxious to keep this thing going.”
The loss gave USF (2-4, 1-3) its second three-game losing streak since the program’s inaugural season.
The Bulls are now faced with the possibility of their first losing season in six years, the last time coming in the team’s first season.
A loss at UAB next week after a bye week would give USF its first ever four-game losing streak.
The Nov. 3 game against the Blazers will be aired on ESPN2.