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"New Guy" lays it out well


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Rutgers rocks USF, 31-0

By SCOTT CARTER  | The Tampa Tribune

Published: November 12, 2009

Updated: 10:55 pm

PISCATAWAY, N.J. – The game started badly for South Florida, and it only got worse from there, ending in the first regular-season shutout loss in USF's 13-year history.

The Bulls muffed kick returns, dropped passes, allowed six sacks, threw interceptions and lost fumbles – all those miscues and more played a role in USF's 31-0 loss Thursday night. Oh, and a blocked punt to add to USF's continued misery against Big East nemesis Rutgers, which has now defeated the Bulls four consecutive seasons.

The first half was so atrocious for the Bulls that Coach Jim Leavitt became perhaps one of the first men in America to run away from ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews as she approached at the end of the first half. When Andrews finally caught up, Leavitt didn't have much to say.

Afterward, he broke down the Bulls' loss in simple terms. USF managed just seven first downs and 159 total yards, their lowest totals since joining the Big East in 2005.

"Our offense got dominated by their defense," Leavitt said. "To be down only 13 points at halftime, I was shocked. Give Rutgers a lot of credit.

"They just beat the dog out of us."

The mistakes never let up Friday, making USF's impressive win over No. 20-ranked West Virginia 13 days earlier seem like a blur. The shutout victory was the first for Rutgers in conference play since 1993, a span of 124 games.

"Our kids just played great," Rutgers coach Greg Schiano said. "They did everything we wanted. It's a Big East game. It's real important for us in what we're trying to build here at Rutgers."

The defeat was USF's worst since losing 49-16 to the Scarlet Knights (7-2, 2-2) a year ago at Raymond James Stadium, a loss that lingered heavy on the Bulls' psyche in the days leading up to Thursday night's showdown on ESPN.

Rutgers' play did all the talking once the game started.

"They just have our number," receiver A.J. Love said.

Rutgers wasted little time making a strong opening statement, marching 80 yards on nine plays on its opening drive to take a 7-0 lead on Tom Savage's 25-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Mohamed Sanu, who scored after a missed tackle by cornerback Kayvon Webster inside the 10.

The comedy of errors started right away for the No. 23-ranked Bulls (6-3, 2-3). On USF's first possession, quarterback B.J. Daniels' intended pass for A.J. Love bounced off Love's hands and right into those of Rutgers defensive back Brandon Jones, giving Rutgers the ball at USF's 41. Five plays later, San San Te's 36-yard field goal gave the Scarlet Knights a 10-0 lead and had the crowd of 48,057 at Rutgers Stadium smelling blood.

For much of the first half, USF looked the perfect victim. Rutgers could have easily had a much bigger lead at halftime if it could have cashed in on all of USF's miscues.

"Our defense, we knew we did extremely well in that half," said linebacker Kion Jones, who had a career-high 18 tackles. "We were surprised the score wasn't worse."

Webster later muffed a punt return that Rutgers' recovered. Daniels fumbled two possessions later, and he later threw his second interception of the game – all coming in the first half. The Bulls' four turnovers in the first half set a season-high for a game.

Still, USF trailed only 13-0 at the half, providing the Bulls hope they could still come back and avoid dropping to 1-6 in Thursday night games.

But that never happened.

Rutgers outplayed USF in every facet of the game, finally breaking the game open in the second half on Savage's 26-yard touchdown pass to Tim Brown midway through the third quarter, putting Rutgers up 21-0.

Even when the Bulls did something good, disaster loomed just around the corner.

After USF's third turnover in the first half, Te missed a 51-yard field goal with 8:27 left before halftime, keeping the score 10-0.

On USF's first play after the missed field goal, Daniels hit Theo Wilson for a 37-yard gain to Rutgers' 29. However, Daniels quickly threw an interception to Khaseem Greene in the end zone on a miscommunication with a receiver.

"I don't know what happened tonight," Leavitt said. "A lot of strange things happened."

Prior to Thursday's loss, the only other time USF was shut out was in the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl against N.C. State, losing 14-0.

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