First-year starters make honor roll

After scoring the first two touchdowns of his career in USF’s 21-20 win over Florida International University on Saturday, sophomore wide receiver Taurus Johnson made the Big East’s weekly honor roll.

Johnson scored the Bulls’ final two touchdowns to help USF avoid the upset. His first score came on a 14-yard reverse in the third quarter to pull the Bulls within six. With fewer than three minutes left in the game, redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Grothe connected with Johnson on a 29-yard, game-tying touchdown pass.

“The reverse was as good as a run you’ll ever see,” coach Jim Leavitt said Monday after practice.

Redshirt freshman defensive end George Selvie also made the conference’s weekly honor roll. In just his second collegiate start, Selvie finished with a game-high nine tackles, including two sacks.

“Selvie made nine big plays,” Leavitt said. “He plays hard for a freshman.”

Special teams’ struggles: Excessive penalties weren’t the only thing holding back USF’s special teams against the Golden Panthers. Sophomore kicker Mike Benzer continued to struggle, missing a 35-yard field goal attempt. Going back to last season, Benzer is 0-for-5 in field goal attempts in his career at USF.

“Benzer is going to kick Saturday,” Leavitt said. “He hit the three extra points (against FIU), which was real big. The first year he missed his field goals, (but) I don’t tie those in with this year.”

Leavitt went on to say if he does make a kicking change, he would put in freshman punter Delbert Alvarado to attempt field goals. If that happens, it wouldn’t be the first time a kicker took on double duties at USF. Tony Umholtz (1997-99) and Santiago Gramatica (2001-04) both spent time punting and kicking field goals, Leavitt said.

Side notes: Despite having three punt returns for touchdowns called back in just two games, senior wide receiver Ean Randolph is tied for first in the nation with 157 punt-return yards.

It was announced Monday that another USF game will be on TV. Fox Sports Net will air the Bulls’ road game against Kansas on Sept. 23 at 7:00 p.m. Six of USF’s 10 remaining games will be on TV, with the possibility of more being added.

News from other sports: After the men’s soccer team picked up two road victories last weekend, senior goaltender Dane Brenner was named the Big East Goalkeeper of the Week. Brenner led the Bulls to a 2-0 shutout victory against No. 8 Notre Dame on Friday, and through six games, he has a 0.67 GAA, allowing just four goals.

The women’s golf team opened up its season Monday at the Cougar Classic in Hanahan, S.C. The Bulls shot a 298, which was good for a sixth-place tie in after the first day of the 18-team, two-day tournament.

The men’s and women’s cross country teams competed in the University of Tampa Early Bird Classic on Friday in Brandon. Junior Ryan Thomas finished the four-mile race in 20 minutes, 58 seconds to help lead the men to a third-place finish. Eight teams competed.

Softball coach Ken Eriksen promoted Amber Wright to his top assistant Monday. Wright, who played for USF from 1994-97, is replacing former USF assistant Stacey Heintz. Heintz resigned Sept. 1 to spend more time with her husband Chris, who is a former USF baseball player and who now plays for the Minnesota Twins.