Answering Burning Questions About the A.J. Love Injury; Charting the Spring Game 2nd Half

via www.tampabay.com

Let's fast-forward right to the 4:33 mark of the fourth quarter:

 

4-2-USF38 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete over the middle to Love for 30 yards

 

Love ran a crossing pattern at about 15 yards, and turned upfield after the catch. It looked like he injured himself with a bad plant in the turf at around the 35-yard line. He wasn't hit or bent around awkwardly, his knee just gave out. As you probably know by now, it's a torn ACL, and he will not play in 2010. (On the plus side, I would think that he easily qualifies for a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA, so this may not be the last we see of Love as a Bull.)

There are a few burning questions about how this happened:

Why was Love even in the game?

The million-dollar question. He was the only starting receiver in the game at that point - Tyler Stowell and Victor Marc both saw time on that drive, and guys like Ed Alcin and Jared Greenaway were available but not playing. Dontavia Bogan's night was already over. So was Mo Plancher's. B.J. Daniels was only out there for some two-minute drill work and he was in a non-contact jersey anyway. I don't understand why Love needed to be out there. I also don't understand why they had Glenn Fagan run the series before and then put Daniels back in, or why they didn't simulate a two-minute situation earlier in the game if they wanted to get that kind of work in.

It wasn't completely indefensible, but compared to, say, the Matt Grothe injury last year, it's pretty bad. The Grothe injury happened against a clearly overmatched Charleston Southern opponent, but even against an FCS team you should run your starters out there for at least a half. (It's one of those unwritten rules of cupcake games. You don't want to show up the other team.) Grothe was injured in the second quarter, on what would have probably been his last series of the game. The bottom line is that there was not much reason for Love to be playing this late in the game, and now the Bulls are without one of their few experienced receivers for the season.

And then on the next freaking play Daniels takes off running! God forbid he got hurt too.

Why did the Bulls go for it on 4th down instead of punting?

It was another weird part of the incident, but it was in line with what happened the rest of the night. The coaches decided to go for it on just about any 4th and short situation, and it was 4th and 2. I don't think anyone wanted to see another mediocre punt, especially when returns were not allowed.

If Jonny Sitton hadn't fumbled on the previous series and the Bulls team didn't return it for a touchdown, might the game have ended before this injury even happened?

We'll never know, but it's possible. The running clock was on, that offensive unit was in run-run-run-punt mode, and the fumble was on third and long. If they don't fumble and there's a punt, and then another defensive stop, does Skip Holtz stop the game right there at 49-25? There would have only been a couple of minutes left in the game by then. It might not have been worth it to continue.

While we play a very frustrating game of "what if", here's a look at the second-half chart:

 

1-10-USF30 / 3-1-1 / Daniels complete right side to Bogan for 16 yards

- Play-action fake. Washington was playing off but landed a big hit after the catch.

 

1-10-USF46 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete short left to Bogan for 18 yards

- Quick screen left to Bogan. Spun away from Baker to gain extra yards before Sinclair cleaned up at the end.

 

1-10-BUL36 / 2-1-2 I formation / Daniels complete over the middle to Love for 20 yards.

- Another play fake. All three linebackers bit and Love slipped in behind them.

 

1-10-BUL16 / 2-1-2 shotgun / Daniels left end for 6 yards

- Zone read, Daniels took off to the left side. Would have gained about the same in a real game.

 

2-4-BUL10 / 2-1-2 I twins / Plancher up the middle for 6 yards, PENALTY - offside, 5 yards, declined.

- Looked like the defense was expecting a whistle, Plancher had an easy gain.

 

1-4-BUL4 / 2-2-1 / Daniels short right to Love for 4 yards, TOUCHDOWN. PENALTY - personal foul, enforced on next series.

- For some reason Baker was set up in the end zone defending Love. They gave away the touchdown with that coverage, not good. 

 

PAT / FG / Bonani extra point is GOOD.

 

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1-10-BUL15 / 2-1-2 offset I / Miller up the middle for 2 yards

- Lattimore knifed inside to make the tackle.

 

2-8-BUL17 / 2-1-2 offset I / Landi pass incomplete left side

- This had to be the contest winner's play call. Landi came in motion towards the middle and took an end around, then looked to pass. Jenkins read the play immediately and almost forced a fumble. I don't know who Landi was trying to throw it to but he just threw the ball away.

 

3-8-BUL17 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes scrambles right for 8 yards, PENALTY - offensive holding, 9 yards, declined.

- Eppes wasn't in immediate danger after stepping up in the pocket, but took off running. Holding penalty was declined.

 

4-1-BUL24 / 2-1-2 offset I twins / Miller off right guard for no gain, turnover on downs.

- Good push from the defensive line. Lanaris and Lattimore both stepped into the hole and knocked Miller back before he could cross the 25.

 

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1-10-BUL24 / 3-1-1 / Daniels to Bogan deep right for 24 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- Play-action. Daniels faked, then rolled right and threw a rocket to Bogan. He just fit it in over Williams's hand and in between Sinclair and Baker. Best throw of the night.

 

PAT / FG / Bonani extra point is GOOD.

 

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1-10-BUL30 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi complete short left to Griffin for 6 yards

- Rollout left, quick out to Griffin at the left sideline. Sort of a sprint option play although the TE blocked instead of rolling short.

 

2-4-BUL36 / 2-1-2 offset I / Murray up the middle for 4 yards

- Popek opened up a hole for Murray.

 

1-10-BUL40 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi scrambles right for 10 yards

- Hampton got around the corner quickly on Edwards and forced Landi to run. Landi put the ball across the 50 to pick up the first down.

 

1-10-USF49 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Hornes left side for 4 yards

- Hornes motioned towards the middle and took the handoff on a jet sweep. Ketchel held his block for several seconds to help Hornes pick up a few yards.

 

2-6-USF45 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi complete over the middle to Ketchel for 7 yards

- Ketchel ran a quick curl in front of the linebackers and dragged Sanchez across the first-down line.

 

1-10-USF38 / 2-1-2 offset I / Landi incomplete deep left for Griffin

- Play-action fake, Griffin held up a little by Raymond who didn't bite on the stop-and-go, and the pass was overthrown. Play wasn't there.

 

2-10-USF38 / 3-1-1 / PENALTY - false start, 5 yards, no play.

 

2-15-USF43 / 3-1-1 / Landi pass incomplete short right to Griffin

- Tried a quick screen to Griffin on the right side, but Lanaris(?) got in unblocked and deflected the ball.

 

3-15-USF43 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi pass incomplete deep left for Richardson/Hornes.

- Hampton beat Popek again and forced Landi to roll left. Threw one up for grabs with two receivers heading downfield but overthrew everyone.

 

4-15-USF43 / Punt / Proia punt for 26 yards, catch MUFFED, recovered by Sitton.

- Sitton recovered his own muffed punt. Ball came straight down and bounced out of his hands as he went to the ground to catch it.

 

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1-10-USF23 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels left tackle for 2 yards

- Zone read, Daniels misread the DE, Bedford. Two defenders waiting for him and the whistle blew. Might have been worse in a real game.

 

2-8-USF25 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete left side to Alcin for 12 yards

- No huddle. Daniels rolled left and Alcin made a diving catch.

 

1-10-USF37 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete short left to Bogan for 3 yards

- Bogan was an outlet receiver at the left sideline. Washington came up and made a sure tackle.

 

2-7-USF40 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels sacked for -3 yards

- Hill got in nearly unblocked and disrupted the play. Daniels stepped up but was about to run into defenders when the whistle blew.

 

3-10-USF37 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels sacked for -12 yards

- Davis made it around the corner and started chasing Daniels. The play moved towards an onrushing Bedford and the whistle blew.

 

4-22-USF25 / Punt / Brockhaus-Kahn punt for 35 yards, fair catch

- Not a ton of hang time but the ball covered all 35 yards on the fly.

 

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1-10-BUL40 / 2-1-2 offset I / Murray right guard for no gain

- Grissom clogged up the running lane and forced Murray to try and bounce outside. Forte and Barrington cleaned up.

 

2-10-BUL40 / 3-1-1 / Eppes scrambles right for no gain, FUMBLES - recovered by Lattimore. Lattimore returns for 25 yards.

- Eppes bailed on this play too early, he tucked the ball under almost as soon as he finished rolling out. Wilkinson punched the ball loose and Lattimore came racing in to scoop it up. Hopkins hurried back to lay the hit on Lattimore before he could score.

 

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1-10-BUL10 / 2-2-1 / Plancher off right guard for 10 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- Love came around for a fake reverse after Daniels handed the ball off. Looks like it was supposed to go up the middle but Plancher bounced outside a little. Great blocks by Sims and Hawkins to spring Plancher.

 

PAT / FG / Bonani extra point is GOOD.

 

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1-10-BUL30 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi to Hornes deep right for 48 yards

- Hampton again got pressure and forced Landi to scramble. Landi threw deep for Hornes who made an amazing catch while backing up and falling down with Raymond covering.

 

1-10-USF22 - 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi scrambles left for 8 yards

- Griffin with a nice crackback block to make sure Landi got to the sideline.

 

2-2-USF14 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi screen incomplete to Hornes

- Hornes dipped inside for a middle screen but dropped the pass.

 

3-2-USF14 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Murray up the middle for 5 yards

- Lead draw play. Good push by the entire offensive line.

 

1-9-USF9 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi right end for 4 yards

- Zone read. Landi caught WIlkinson rushing upfield and also eluded Lattimore for a couple extra yards.

 

2-5-USF5 / 2-1-2 offset I / Landi complete short left to Griffiths for no gain

- Wow, a pass to a fullback! Not a good throw, Griffiths had to stop to catch it and Spires tackled him quickly.

 

3-5-USF5 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi scrambles up the middle for 2 yards

- No one to throw to again. Looked like Jackson might have been open in the end zone but Landi didn't see him.

 

4-3-USF3 / 3-1-1 shotgun / TIMEOUT

 

4-3-USF3 / 3-1-1 / Landi complete short left to Ketchel for 3 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- Ketchel chipped Forte then slipped out along the goal line for Landi's pass.

 

PAT / 3-1-1 / Landi pass INTERCEPTED by Sanchez, returned 9 yards.

- Might have been the same play that they ran for the touchdown. This time Forte got away from the block and came in quickly on Landi, who scrambled left and forced a pass to no one in particular.

 

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1-10-USF30 / 2-2-1 offset I / Battles right side for 4 yards

- Battles turned it up the right sideline. Baker made a good play to cut inside and submarine Battles, who flipped forward.

 

2-6-USF34 / 2-2-1 twins / Daniels complete left side to Alcin for 12 yards

- Good timing by Daniels, Alcin ran a curl in front of the safeties and Daniels hit him right at the top of the curl. Alcin was down at the spot.

 

1-10-USF46 / 2-2-1 twins / Battles off right tackle for 3 yards

- Left side of the offensive line collapsed by the defensive tackles, but the play was run in the opposite direction. Battles cut inside Joseph to pick up yardage.

 

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END OF THIRD QUARTER

Bulls 19, South Florida 35

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2-7-USF49 / 2-2-1 / Battles up the middle for 3 yards

 

3-5-BUL49 / 2-1-2 shotgun (Kelly in slot) / Daniels complete short left to Hawkins for 5 yards

- Hawkins tried to give the first down back while being chased by Williams, but he was given forward progress for the first.

 

1-10-BUL44 / 2-1-2 I formation / Daniels complete deep left to Bogan for 44 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- Flea flicker! Washington was lined up on Bogan but bit hard on the play. Bogan ran past him and the safeties and was behind the defense in the end zone. Daniels eluded Forte to throw the ball. I guess Fitch really wanted that steak dinner to pull this play out of the bag in the spring game. Not really sporting, old chap.

 

PAT / FG / Bonani extra point is GOOD.

 

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1-10-BUL30 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes pass INTERCEPTED by Williams, returned for 40 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- Jenkins sat on the route and jumped in front of Griffin, Eppes looked at him the whole way. Easy touchdown.

 

PAT / FG / Bonani extra point is GOOD.

 

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1-10-BUL30 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes complete short middle to Virgin for 7 yards

- First three-man line, looks like a 3-2-6 setup? Virgin sat in front of the linebackers for a short pass.

 

2-3-BUL37 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes complete short middle for Virgin to 7 yards

- Similar play as the one before. Virgin pushed through a tackle by Lattimore to gain a few extra yards.

 

1-10-BUL44 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes incomplete right side for Griffin

- The snap was low along the ground and not fielded cleanly. Busted play. Eppes threw right and was intercepted by Wideman, but he couldn't get a foot inbounds.

 

2-10-BUL44 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes pass incomplete short left for Virgin

- Tight end screen. Virgin turned to run before catching the ball and dropped it.

 

3-10-BUL44 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes complete short right for Miller for 11 yards, PENALTY - unnecessary roughness, 15 yards added to play.

- Eppes scrambled and dumped it off to Miller just before crossing the line of scrimmage. Wideman was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit.

 

1-10-USF30 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Miller up the middle for 4 yards

- Lead draw.

 

2-6-USF26 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes complete short left to Hopkins for 10 yards

- Hopkins did the work by himself, he caught a short flare pass and used the speed to get outside and up the field.

 

1-10-USF16 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes complete short right to Hopkins for -1 yard

- WR screen for Hopkins breaking towards the middle. Sanchez read the play and tackled him immediately.

 

2-11-USF17 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Hopkins around left end for 17 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- Eppes handed off to Miller on a draw, who veered right and gave it to Hopkins on a reverse. Outran the defenders to the corner. McGhin got out in front of Hopkins as a pulling guard and buried Wideman at the 10-yard line.

 

PAT / 3-1-1 shotgun / Eppes complete short right to Hopkins for -2 yards

- Not a good idea for a two-point conversion. Eppes threw a quick pass to Hopkins behind the line. Salinas came up to make the tackle immediately.

 

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1-10-USF30 / 2-1-2 I formation / (unsure) up the middle for 5 yards

- Camera did not return in time to see who carried the ball. Probably Sitton.

 

2-5-USF35 / 2-1-2 I formation / Sitton up the middle for -2 yards

- I don't know if this was a called defense, but Weatherspoon shot through the line of scrimmage at the snap and met Sitton in the backfield right as Fagan gave him the ball.

 

3-7-USF33 / 2-1-2 offset I / Sitton right side for 2 yards, FUMBLES, recovered by Lanaris, returned for 35 yards, TOUCHDOWN.

- McClain broke through the line and popped the ball loose from Sitton. Lanaris scooped it up and had an escort to the end zone.

 

PAT / 3-1-1 shotgun / Landi right side for -4 yards

- Not sure what happened here either. Landi ran a sweep to the right and there was nowhere to go. It couldn't have been a run/pass option because Landi is left-handed and the play went right.

 

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1-10-USF30 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Battles off right guard for 4 yards

- Battles carried Marshall for a couple of yards.

 

2-6-USF34 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels right side for 1 yard

- Daniels could have dumped it off to Battles at the right sideline for a few yards, but kept it himself and was forced out of bounds.

 

3-5-USF35 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels scrambles up the middle for 3 yards

- Davis got around the corner quickly and Daniels stepped up. He was barely tagged by Hill, the play would have gone for many more yards in a real game.

 

4-2-USF38 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete over the middle to Love for 30 yards

- I already talked about this play at length, it's bumming me out, let's just move on.

 

1-10-BUL32 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels left side for 9 yards

- Zone read. I can't believe Daniels took off running with this after what happened to Love the play before. He should have given it to Battles no matter what. The worst play call of the night.

 

2-1-BUL23 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete short right to Battles for -1 yard

- Battles drifted right out of the backfield. Great open-field tackle by Baker to keep him from picking up the first down.

 

3-2-BUL24 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels complete short left to Alcin for 6 yards

- Low throw, Alcin went down to catch it along the left sideline. There was room to maneuver with a better throw.

 

1-10-BUL18 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels incomplete right side for Harris

- No one was really open. Daniels threw it wide of his receiver.

 

2-10-BUL18 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Battles up the middle for no gain

- Milk did a nice job shooting the gap and taking down Battles quickly. Cruel irony - someone landed strangely on the back of Harris's foot and he almost bent backwards in a way that would have injured him. But the pile got up and off him without incident.

 

3-9-BUL17 / 3-1-1 shotgun / Daniels "sacked" for -5 yards

- Daniels was getting ready to step up in the pocket past a rushing Williams, who tagged him on his way past. Play would have continued in a real game.

 

4-14-BUL22 / FG / Bonani 39-yard field goal is NO GOOD, wide right.

 

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FINAL (Game called)

BULLS 31, SOUTH FLORIDA 49

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