Raymond James Stadium didn’t sell out like some of the USF players and coaches hoped it would, but the USF-Cincinnati game Thursday was still one of the largest home crowds in the program’s 13-year history.
The announced crowd of 63,976 was the third-largest and largest since 2007. USF’s Friday ESPN game against West Virginia and matchup against rival UCF were both sellouts in 2007, with USF winning both.
USF’s student section had its largest turnout ever with 14,851.
The Bulls are now 2-2 against the Bearcats all-time at Raymond James Stadium.
Hester makes presence felt
Senior receiver Jessie Hester, who’s only played a few snaps this year because of an ankle and a hamstring injury, caught his first pass of the season in the first quarter Thursday – a 28-yard touchdown from Daniels that put USF ahead 7-3.
“His first catch was a touchdown. It just tells you what we’ve been missing,” said offensive coordinator Mike Canales. “He needs to stay healthy. He’s a big part of what we do offensively.”
Hester, who led USF in receptions and yards last year, caught three passes for 41 yards. Hester’s 54 receptions last year were the second-most in a single season by a USF wide receiver.
Schwartz field goal could have mileage
Junior walk-on Eric Schwartz, who hadn’t connected on a field goal longer than 37 yards in his short career, kicked the fourth-longest in USF history, a 50-yarder that cut Cincinnati’s deficit to 17-10 as time expired before halftime.
Leavitt said he planned to have senior Delbert Alvarado handling the longer field goals, but changed his strategy after Alvarado missed wide right on a 50-yard field goal attempt in the second quarter.
“We’d been working with Delbert and he had been hitting the long field goals in practice so we made a decision: any field goal 50 yards or longer, we’d let Delbert (take it),” Leavitt said. “Delbert missed it poorly, so that changes things for me.”
Leavitt said he will likely go with Schwartz on any field goal attempt from now on.
“You’d have to go with Schwartz right now, whether it’s long or short, until he doesn’t get it done,” Leavitt said.
Schwartz was 2-for-5 on field goals coming into Thursday’s game.
Senior cornerback Jerome Murphy wore former USF player Keeley Dorsey’s No. 10 jersey Thursday. Dorsey died after a team conditioning workout in January 2007, and a different team member has worn the No. 10 jersey each game … USF’s failed fourth down attempt in the first quarter of Thursday’s game was the first fourth down attempt not converted by the Bulls this season. USF was 5-for-5 on its first five fourth down attempts this season … USF is now 2-for-5 all-time against Cincinnati … Nate Allen had his third interception of the year in the third quarter, and Selvie recorded his third sack of the season and 28.5 of his career in the second quarter.