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USF stumbles badly out of the blocks

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 15, 2002

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- For South Florida in Saturday's 42-3 loss to Arkansas, it was as awful a start as could be imagined. How bad? It might have been worse than at Utah last season.

Before the first quarter ended Saturday, Arkansas led 21-0. It might have been more but the Razorbacks went for it on fourth and 1 at the USF 3 with a 14-0 lead and were stuffed for a loss by Tavares Jurineack.

That was USF's only highlight of the half. By the time it was 21-0 with 2:15 to go in the quarter, Arkansas had an 11-1 edge in first downs and had outgained USF 193-17. The Bulls finished the quarter with two first downs and 34 yards.

Despite Arkansas using numerous backups in the second quarter, it was 35-0 at halftime.

For the record, on Oct. 6, Utah led 21-0 after one quarter and 31-0 at halftime and beat the Bulls 52-21.

IT'S ALL BAD: Even a bold, initially successful maneuver backfired for USF. On the final play of the first quarter USF faked a punt and Kawika Mitchell rumbled 69 yards inside the Arkansas 10. It was called back, however, because the Bulls had only six men on the line of scrimmage.

RECORD KICK! SCRATCH THAT ... RECORD KICK!: After the failed fake punt, Devin Sanderson uncorked a 72-yard punt to open the second quarter, the longest in school history. Except it was later ruled a 52-yard kick and a minus-20 yard return by Lawrence Richardson, who got his fingertips on the ball as it sailed over his head and rolled another 20 yards.

No matter. Sanderson hit a 72-yarder on his next attempt.

NOT IN OUR (OTHER) HOUSE: Arkansas' 12-game unbeaten streak at War Memorial Stadium under coach Houston Nutt wasn't compiled against a string of patsies. The Razorbacks, who play about half of their games at the 52-year old facility in Little Rock and the rest on campus in Fayetteville, defeated three ranked teams in that stretch. Last season they beat South Carolina, which was 5-0 and ranked ninth, 10-7 at Little Rock.

SEC ONLY, PLEASE: Arkansas improved to 14-0 in nonconference games in Nutt's four-plus seasons.

CASH: USF's contract with Arkansas called for the Bulls to receive about $400,000. USF will get $450,000 for playing Sept. 28 at Oklahoma.

MEASURING STICK?: Since USF and Central Florida don't play each other, their supporters must find other ways to compare the teams. UCF played Arkansas last season in Fayetteville (where the Razorbacks are 13-3 under Nutt), losing 27-20. It was the week after the Razorbacks' 58-56 seven-overtime win over Mississippi. In light of Saturday's fiasco, advantage Golden Knights.

IN THE LINEUP: Freshman defensive end Terrence Royal has earned consecutive starts in place of Shurron Pierson. Coach Jim Leavitt indicated last week he considered Royal, Pierson and Chris Daley to be first-stringers. Redshirt freshman left guard Shelly Houston started in place of Mark Sopcik, who sprained his left ankle Tuesday.

POWER BY ASSOCIATION: The Bulls' stature improved before kickoff, if not after. Northern Illinois, which USF hammered 37-6 last weekend, nearly pulled off an upset at No. 22 Wisconsin. The Huskies led the Badgers 21-17 late in the fourth quarter before a controversial pass interference call led to Wisconsin's winning score with 1:21 remaining.

NEW TURF: It was the first game on War Memorial's AstroPlay artificial surface.

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