Punter getting a rush out of fakes

Published November 5, 2006

TAMPA - At halftime, USF's leading rusher wasn't one of the usual candidates.

Running backs Ricky Ponton or Ben Williams? Nope. Quarterback Matt Grothe? Not even close.

Surprisingly, it was walk-on punter Justin Teachey.

The 5-foot-11, 170-pound sophomore from Palmetto had two rushes for 25 yards in Saturday's 22-12 win - and they were big plays.

The Bulls' first drive went three and out. Teachey, who handles kickoffs and has had success with a rugby style of punting (a 39.4-yard average coming in), lined up to punt. Teachey hesitated, then took off for an 11-yard run and a first down that extended the drive. It ended with Taurus Johnson's 22-yard touchdown run.

"(Pittsburgh) just took off, and we had our regular coverage on," Teachey said. "I took advantage of it. It wasn't a designed fake, and I was going to kick it, but then (the Panthers) were gone."

But Teachey didn't stop there. In the second quarter, a fourth-and-3 situation came up on Pittsburgh's 44-yard line. Teachey, though this time not calling his own number, rushed 14 yards for the first down.

"That one was a designed fake, and I was making sure I just got the first down," he said. "I tried to get more, tried to make a move, but hey, what am I going to do?"

Most players were caught off guard on the first fake.

"I was on the fake side," cornerback Trae Williams said. "They called the punt, and I took off. Then I hear everyone cheering and I turn around, and (the Pittsburgh guy) is pointing, and Teachey had the first down."

Added linebacker Brouce Mompremier, "I had no idea what was going on."

Leavitt said that USF "worked on what Teachey did all week." USF tried a fake punt Oct. 22 against Cincinnati, but Teachey failed to convert the fourth down. It's a play not forgotten on special teams.

"I messed up on that one," said Mompremier, Teachey's lead blocker on fake punts. "We made some adjustments and stopped worrying about the mistakes."

Leavitt said jokingly, "I told our team Teachey wants to move to running back - that he wants to compete there."

Teachey has three rushes for 26 yards in two games, but says carrying the ball is not for him.

"That's a big negative. Ricky is a great running back. Ben is, too, for that matter," Teachey said. "I'm there to do whatever my teams needs, whether it be a punt or a fake. (As for running back), absolutely not."