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Arkansas' blitz, mistakes silence Bulls offense

© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- South Florida coach Jim Leavitt warned his team that a rowdy crowd would be on hand for its game against Arkansas on Saturday.

But nothing could have prepared the Bulls for a crowd of 55,817, fifth largest at War Memorial Stadium. The Razorbacks fed off the crowd's energy, trampling the Bulls 42-3.

"The crowd was loud and all that, but I don't think that was it," senior wide receiver Hugh Smith said. "We didn't play like we could. They just put it on us."

"It wasn't anything that we didn't expect, but they did come at us from all over the place," center Alex Herron said. "It was hard for us to get into a rhythm. But it was all about what we didn't do, not what they did to us."

Arkansas used the blitz to keep quarterback Marquel Blackwell on the move.

The Razorbacks led 21-0 and intercepted Blackwell once before the Bulls gained a first down before the second quarter.

"We went three-and-out three times in a row, and that put our defense in a terrible position," Herron said. "That's our fault as an offense."

Blackwell came into the game with a 67.1 passing percentage, but the senior completed 9 of 22 passes for 57 yards in the first half and finished 12-for-33 for 80.

"I think we confused them with our different fronts and our speed," said Arkansas outside linebacker Tony Bua, who intercepted Blackwell. "The crowd was all in their ears and we were playing fast. It was a lethal combination."

Smith said he and the other Bulls receivers were open throughout the game, but either the ball did not make it to them or they failed to make the play.

"There were times when Marquel couldn't find us and there were times when the ball hit our hands but we didn't come up with it," Smith said. "They may have not been perfect balls, but we should have come down with more of them."

South Florida also made mental mistakes. It had nine penalties for minus-74 yards.

"Arkansas did some of the things teams like Pittsburgh and Utah did to us last year," Herron said. "They filled the box with players and put a lot of pressure on us. We just have to get used to it.

"We've got to put this game away. Take our off week and get better. This season is not over."

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