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Loss itself not only thing that rankles players


© St. Petersburg Times, published November 13, 2000

TAMPA -- It was bad enough that South Florida's 45-9 loss to Middle Tennessee State on Saturday was its worst of the season.

Just as disturbing to the players was not being able to go undefeated in the second half of the season.

"This was a huge loss," linebacker Marshall Smith said. "A lot of our goals were set on winning the last five games, so it was very disappointing."

The Bulls seemed confident they would play well and their defense could handle Middle Tennessee State's offense, ranked 18th in Division I-A going into the game..

"I was real surprised," linebacker Kawika Mitchell said. "I thought our defense could do a good enough job to stop them and we could come out here and hang with them.

"Now we've got Austin Peay (this) week, so we have to go out and beat the dog out of them because for a lot of people, it's their last game."

Coach Jim Leavitt wondered if having many emotional games might have taken their toll.

"We've had so many emotional games, and you can run out of emotion," he said. "Western Kentucky (a win) was such an emotional game, you kind of wonder a little bit. But that's probably not a very good excuse.

"I feel bad for the seniors because this was their last away game and they got humiliated. We'll come back, hopefully get a win against Austin Peay, and we'll have seven wins. That won't be a horrible year at all. ... I don't want this game to take away from what these guys have done this year."

BATTERED AND BEATEN: Defensive end Shawn Hay injured an ankle in the first quarter and missed the remainder of the game. Leavitt said Sunday that Hay's status for Saturday was "doubtful." Hay is a senior who has played in every game in the program's four years. Receiver Charlie Jackson and defensive back Glenn Davis suffered concussions and had to leave the game. Both were scheduled to be evaluated this week. Linebacker Anthony Williams, who was questionable because of an injury last week, played and was expected to play Saturday.

Quarterback Marquel Blackwell, who was sacked three times and was being hit or running for his life all game, is having knee problems.

"His knee swelled up pretty good," Leavitt said. "But he should be okay for Saturday. We'll watch him."

DIFFERENT DAY, SAME ANALYSIS: After reviewing film Sunday, Leavitt offered an assessment not much different from his first: "We didn't play very good. Nobody. We did a poor job of coaching; the players did a poor job of playing. When you do that bad, that's what happens -- you get clobbered. It was an awfully bad day. It happens. You hope in your worse nightmares that it doesn't, but it did."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "When the ball is snapped, if you can't get fired up for these games like this, then you don't belong on the football team. You've got to get hyped for these big games." -- Senior center Joey Sipp on whether the Bulls came out flat in the first quarter.

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