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Fresh Bulls needed early, often

By ANTONYA ENGLISH

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000


LEXINGTON, KY. -- The next time you hear USF coach Jim Leavitt talking about developing depth, don't think he's just talking coach-speak.

Sixty-six Bulls made the trip from Tampa and a whopping 51 saw action in the first quarter as the coaching staff rotated generously early on. A total of 54 players saw action.

Many substitutions were on defense, the unit that spent the most time on the field early.

USF's offense had just seven plays in the first quarter , going three-and-out twice and one-and-out on its other possession. FAN FAITHFUL: About 300 USF fans made the trek to cheer the Bulls. The majority of the group sat in the upper portion of sections 113 and 114 of Commonwealth Stadium.

Although outnumbered, Bulls fans made themselves heard, chanting "USF, USF, USF," as the Bulls put together their only scoring threat of the first half. The cheering was short-lived as the drive ended with a fumble on the 2-yard line.

THE TURNING POINT: Despite making just one first down in the first 27 minutes, USF had a chance to go into halftime trailing by just six.

The Bulls drove to a first and goal on the 5-yard line.

But with second-and-goal on the 3, Otis Dixon fumbled as he drove into the end zone, ending an eight-play drive and giving Kentucky the ball with 1:15 left in the half. Kentucky took a 13-0 lead and momentum into halftime.

"Obviously it would have been a great play if we had gotten it in there, we don't know," offensive coordinator Mike Canales said. "We would have had third down coming up, on the one, so you would hope that we would get it in. We had momentum and that would have been a big play."

WELCOME BACK: Senior safety Jay Mize missed all of preseason and the first game with a herniated disc in his neck.

He returned showing no signs of rust. Mize had four tackles, one assist and had one pass break-up.

Defensive end John Brown made his first appearance for USF after missing last week's game with an ankle injury. Brown had two tackles.

LOYAL FOLLOWING: Despite its reputation as a basketball school, Kentucky has a loyal football following, especially since coach Hal Mumme arrived four years ago. Saturday's game had the familiar look of a traditional SEC football Saturday, complete with heavy traffic leading to the stadium and pregame tailgating.

The only exception: several corners near the stadium were occupied by fans with signs raised. But they weren't looking for tickets; they were looking to sell them instead.

A DAY OFF: Three Bulls didn't play. Senior receiver Charlie Jackson and sophomore Greg Walls missed the game due to a one-game disciplinary suspension and senior linebacker Marshall Smith has strep throat.

A NEW LOOK: The Bulls dressed in new uniforms for their first road game of the season. USF wore white jerseys on green pants for the first time.

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