Bulls have hands full against ranked WVU

All season coach Jim Leavitt has praised every opponent before USF’s games. This week is no different, but with the Bulls facing a ranked team for the second straight week, he won’t be the only one talking up the opposition.

Fresh off a 31-8 loss to then-No. 10 Louisville, USF will travel to Morgantown this weekend to take on No. 7 West Virginia, a team that was ranked No. 3 in the country before falling to the Cardinals on Nov. 2.

The Bulls’ defense, which is ranked No. 27 in the nation with just over 295 yards allowed per game, will be facing the Mountaineers’ offense, which is ranked No. 2 in the country with just over 480 yards per game.

If USF has any hope of pulling off the upset, they’ll have to contain quarterback Pat White and running back Steve Slaton, who have combined for 3,981 yards during West Virginia’s 9-1 season.

“You’re looking at the best running quarterback in the country and maybe the best running back in the country,” Leavitt said. “We have our hands full. We know if we play like we did last week we won’t have a shot. Now our goal is to not play like we did last week.”

Kicking woes: In the Bulls’ 27-10 win against Syracuse on Nov. 11, freshman kicker Delbert Alvarado nailed a 56-yard field goal, setting the Big East record and recording the second-longest field goal in USF history.

Alvarado wasn’t as successful during the loss at Louisville, in which he missed two field goal attempts, a 37-yarder and a 51-yarder.

Alvarado replaced Mike Benzer earlier in the season after Benzer made just two of six field goal attempts. Although Alvarado has also missed four attempts, Leavitt said he’ll stick with him for the final game against West Virginia and whatever bowl game the Bulls travel to.

“I’m a guy who doesn’t move guys very much. I stayed with Mike for quite a while, through a lot of misses,” Leavitt said. “I’ll stay with Delbert all the way through this year, and if he doesn’t get it done then we’ve got to recruit and find a kicker that will.”

Linebackers taking it easy: Junior Ben Moffitt and senior Patrick St. Louis, the Bulls’ first and third in tackles with 98 and 80, respectively, were held out of practice Monday. Moffitt injured his right leg during the Louisville game and St. Louis hurt his hamstring.

Both are expected to play Saturday, but will likely be held from practice most of this week, Leavitt said.- Kevin Smetana