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Linebacker boosts tackle total

By PETE YOUNG, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published September 30, 2002

NORMAN, Okla. -- Kawika Mitchell continued his exceptional play for South Florida in Saturday's 31-14 loss at Oklahoma, and it came at the expense of a former teammate.

Mitchell and Oklahoma quarterback Nate Hybl were freshmen at Georgia in 1998 before transferring to their respective schools in 1999. Though Hybl guided OU to the comfortable win Saturday, it wasn't Mitchell's fault. The senior middle linebacker had team-high totals of 12 tackles, nine solo, five for loss and two sacks of Hybl. He also forced the fumble, Oklahoma's only turnover.

"I was talking to him the whole game," Mitchell said of Hybl. "It was good seeing him again."

Mitchell, a Butkus Award candidate who led USF in tackles last season, leads the Bulls with 46 tackles in four games, 29 solo and 12 for loss.

MR. MOP-UP: Sophomore backup quarterback Ronnie Banks has made the most of limited opportunities in dire circumstances against second-string defenses.

In last season's 52-21 loss at Utah, Banks drove the Bulls to two fourth quarter touchdowns. In the 42-3 loss at Arkansas two weeks ago, Banks got USF in field-goal range in the final minute to avert a shutout.

Saturday, Banks led the Bulls to two touchdowns in the waning moments to again dodge the first shutout in school history. Banks completed 5 of 7 passes for 100 yards, including a 40-yarder to Huey Whittaker, a 2-yard score to Mark Feldman and a 29-yard score to Ryan Hearn with five seconds left.

EARLY FLAGS, BIG DEFICIT: USF accrued seven penalties in the first quarter against Arkansas and was outscored 21-0. The Bulls had seven of their 15 penalties in the second quarter against Oklahoma and were outscored 21-0.

BAD QUARTER: Buoyed by two USF fumbles and the penalties, Oklahoma did most of its damage in the second quarter. OU gained 124 of its 239 yards in the second and 121 of its 194 passing yards.

GOOD BLOCKING, AND SCRAMBLING: The offensive line, despite having no juniors or seniors, did not allow a sack. That was partly due to improved performance, and partly due to quarterback Marquel Blackwell's pocket presence. Blackwell's quick brain and feet allowed him to escape from nine hurries.

METAMORPHOSIS: Sophomore Tim Jones is spending more time at defensive end with the recent retirement of Emerson Morris because of a leg injury. Jones, who played tight end exclusively as a freshman, had two tackles Saturday, one for loss.

LEATHER CURTAIN: The Bulls allowed 45 rushing yards on 33 attempts and minus-4 rushing yards after the first quarter.

MUCH BETTER: Sophomore kicker Santiago Gramatica continues to improve. He has missed one of 18 kicks this season, a 40-yard field goal, after missing eight field goals and eight extra points last season.

MILESTONE: The Bulls, with 328 yards, were the first to eclipse 300 against the Sooners this season.

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