By PETE YOUNG
© St. Petersburg Times,
published September 10, 2001
TAMPA -- After catching two long touchdowns over the top of the defense in South Florida's season-opening 20-17 defeat at Northern Illinois, Bulls wide receiver DeAndrew Rubin found the relatively simple means of scoring a little unfulfilling.
"I like to catch the ball and make a few moves and then take it to the house," Rubin said Tuesday. "I don't like catching the ball in the end zone. I want to make something happen with the ball."
It came off as a bit cocky. Actually, it was prescient.
Twice in Saturday's benchmark 35-26 win at Pittsburgh, Rubin, who had a school-record 11 receptions for 144 yards, caught short passes inside the 10-yard line and darted past a couple of defenders for the score.
Rubin's biggest "make a few moves and take it to the house" play, however, actually came up short of the house. His back-breaking fourth-quarter 53-yard catch-and-weave through the Panthers secondary ended 3 yards shy of a touchdown.
"He should have scored," quarterback Marquel Blackwell said half-jokingly. "He's going to hear about it from me on the way home."
Rubin's performance stamped the 6-foot, 185-pounder as USF's certified big-play guy. He also gave Pittsburgh fits on returns, bringing back four kickoffs for 85 yards and three punts for 42.
DISRUPTIVE FORCES: Except for two breakdowns in the secondary that allowed Pittsburgh to score on passes of 56 and 71 yards, the USF defense was stout. Junior tackle Greg Walls registered seven tackles and three of the Bulls' seven sacks. Kawika Mitchell had a team-best 10 tackles, and linebacker Maurice Jones had two sacks.
HIGH PRAISE: The centerpiece story on the front page of the sports section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette had the large, bolded headline "BULL-DOZED" and a big photo of Walls sacking Pittsburgh quarterback David Priestley.
COULD HAVE BEEN WORSE: USF's 28-7 third-quarter lead might have been bigger had Santiago Gramatica not missed a 21-yard field-goal attempt in the second quarter. Also, Pittsburgh's comeback might have been thwarted sooner had Kenny Robinson's fourth-quarter interception not been nullified by a questionable pass interference call on Bernard Brown.
ANOTHER RECORD: Blackwell's 37-for-65, 343-yard, four-touchdown performance set USF single-game school records for attempts and completions, and tied the mark for touchdowns. Blackwell also became the school's career passing leader with 4,202 yards, surpassing Chad Barnhardt (4,140).