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USF sings the fourth-and-1 blues

Entering the game as Conference USA’s most effective on fourth down conversions this season, USF didn’t live up to expectations Saturday against Memphis.

On three separate occasions, the Bulls couldn’t convert on fourth and 1, including a back-breaker on the Tigers’ goal line.

USF running back Andre Hall took a pitch to the left but was met in the backfield.

“That was the worst one of all,” said Hall, who rushed for 134 yards. “It’s like you work all week and get fired and you don’t get paid. If I had gotten in, who knows what could have happened after that. We were having trouble like that all game long, seems like.”

By that time, the Bulls had already been stopped twice on fourth and 1.

The first came on USF’s opening drive. Hall was stuffed on a play Julmiste said they ran in the wrong direction, ending an eight-play drive in Tigers territory. Memphis went on to kick a field goal.

In the third quarter, USF had good field position after a 15-yard Memphis punt. On fourth and 1 from the Tiger 27-yard line, a tight end missed a block, according to Julmiste, and Hall was stopped again.

“After each one they were telling me a guy missed this block or that block and those kind of things,” USF coach Jim Leavitt said. “I thought they were big plays. You convert a fourth down and you keep things going.”

Kicking woes: Leavitt said the kicking game was not where he wanted it to be Saturday and that it affected some of his decisions to try to convert on fourth downs.

With starting field goal kicker Santiago Gramatica getting over a groin injury, backup kicker Justin Geisler handled field goals Saturday.

When Geisler missed a 27-yard field goal in the second quarter, the Bulls didn’t attempt another.

USF went for it on fourth down in Memphis territory twice after Geisler’s miss. Geisler made an extra point in the third quarter.

Nobody home: Yes, it was the Bulls’ fifth home game of the season but, no, it didn’t feel like it. The Bulls lost their third home game this season in front of an announced crowd (aka way more than actually showed up) of a measly 21,392, the second fewest crowd to watch the Bulls in Tampa. The smallest came in October 2001 when the Bulls hosted Liberty in front of 21,056.

The 11 a.m. kickoff along with the holiday weekend and USF’s worst record since its inaugural season probably had a lot to do with the weak showing.

Quotable: “You might think I’m being sarcastic, but I’m not. I’m being honest. If we would have pinched all day we might have stopped their damn running game — might have. I’m not kidding. What we did obviously was not good enough.”
–Jim Leavitt after a reporter suggested the defensive line pinch more effectively.