Obviously when you blow a 14-point lead with seven minutes to go, there are a lot of individual things you can question as things start to go wrong. But I thought some of the more obvious things that were being questioned weren't actually that bad, while other things made a bigger difference. So in honor of this morning's epic Burger King-related post, I present: Don't Question This! Question That!
Here we go.
-- Don't question this! Why did USF stop running the ball late?
-- Question that! Why did USF stop running the ball the way they had been successful running the ball?
That baffled me. The Bulls had been finding openings and moving the ball with the zone read running game. Whenever B.J. Daniels turned around and made a straight handoff, Rutgers usually stopped it cold. On the two possessions between Jeremy Deering's kickoff return and the game-tying score, USF ran the ball three times and they were all handoffs to Demetris Murray, rather than a play that would have given Daniels a choice of handing off or running. Yes, Darrell Scott left the game in the fourth quarter, but I don't think Murray was completely incapable of running the same plays that had worked before. As for the three passes, Rutgers wasn't yet in a position where they would have been desperate to stop the clock. Throwing the ball on 2nd and 12 and on 3rd downs wasn't so bad. Especially the last pass, which was very high-percentage and nearly picked up the first down. Which leads to...
-- Don't question this! Why didn't Skip Holtz go for it on 4th and short from the USF 49?
-- Question that! Why wasn't it 4th and short from the Rutgers 36?
Because Mike Jeune took one of the most idiotic penalties I can remember a USF player taking after the last Rutgers punt of the night. At least two seconds after Victor Marc had been tackled, Jeune came in and leveled a flat-footed Rutgers defender at full speed. It was appalling and obviously a 15-yard penalty. We don't know if USF would have run the same three plays from the Rutgers 45-yard line that they ran from their own 40. But if they had been fourth and inches at the edge of field-goal range, I bet they would have gone for it then. As it was, I didn't think punting was as bad of a decision as some people are making it out to be. What had the Scarlet Knights done on offense up to that point to make you think they could drive 80 yards to tie the game? (Also, maybe it could have been more than 80 yards if the wheels hadn't completely fallen off Justin Brockhaus-Kann.)
-- Don't question this! Why did the Bulls let Mohamed Sanu catch seven passes on Rutgers' game-tying drive?
-- Question that! Why was USF playing soft zone all the way down to near the goal line?
You might not remember the play before Brandon Coleman's touchdown, but Chas Dodd found Quron Pratt open at the USF 2-yard line before Jerrell Young wiped him out and Pratt dropped the ball. There was a personal foul on Rutgers that would have erased the play anyway, but when the entire goal of the drive is to not give up a touchdown, how can there be seams like that in a zone that close to the end zone? It's tough to criticize Mark Snyder because he has depth problems in the secondary, and that really ties his hands with some of his defensive calls. But that seemed like a mistake they were lucky to get away with. (It didn't really matter, though, because when they matched up man-to-man on the next play, Coleman beat Kayvon Webster and Dodd threw him a perfect pass. Still better than having your safeties backing up into the end zone and nearly letting a touchdown score in front of them.)
-- Don't question this! Why didn't USF just run out the clock and go to overtime?
-- Question that! Don't think I have one here.
The Bulls were reeling at that point. Even though Rutgers was out of timeouts and they could have easily run the clock out, I don't really blame Holtz for wanting to try and get into field-goal range and hopefully get a chance to win the game. What really made this look bad was B.J. Daniels running out of bounds on his second-down scramble. If he stays in bounds and the clock keeps running, then odds are Holtz thinks better of it and he settles for overtime right then and there. But I still don't think it would have changed the outcome of the game. With how momentum had swung, I felt like Rutgers was absolutely going to win in overtime.
-- Don't question this! What are we going to do with Skip Holtz?
-- Question that! What are we going to do with the guy that hired him?
Skip's not going anywhere -- even if you were ready to send him on his way (and I'm not), it would be crazy and expensive to buy him out of his contract after two years. (Although I do wish he wouldn't say things like "we're three plays away from being 7-1" because that is the universal excuse of losing teams.) On the other hand, all of USF's revenue-producing sports now have coaches that Doug Woolard hired. Baseball is lousy, men's basketball has at least some glimmer of hope with Muma but absolutely no fan interest (and also no place to play), and now the football team might be cratering. Fans are mad and they want answers, if not action. If you're looking for accountability, isn't there a better target than Skip Holtz?