Yes, we're going to air some grievances after USF won a game by 28 points and blew through the UTEP defense like it was the Friday walkthrough in helmets and shells. Because against a better team, this could have been a different story.
Skip Holtz beat us to it after the game and demonstrated that he watched the same game that we did. The offense was fantastic (again), the defense was mediocre, and the special teams were really bad. That last one really annoyed me, because Vernon Frazier and Nathan Jeffery were taking turns ripping off 40 and 50-yard kickoff returns to give the Miners good field position all night long. UTEP only started a drive inside their own 20-yard line once. I don't know why USF kept kicking it to them.
I also don't know how the Bulls didn't recognize the fake punt that ended with Terrence Mitchell being carted off the field. Kind of an obvious time to watch for a fake, right? Down 14 and punting the ball away? This isn't Bob Stoops trying to protect his poll ranking. We all pretty much saw that one coming.
(And by the way? UTEP's punter is a dickhead, plain and simple. Even while T-Rex was motionless on the field with about 50 players from both teams gathered around him, Ian Campbell was on the sideline laughing and high-fiving people and whooping it up because he ran for a first down and then got laid out by Mitchell. In fact the whole UTEP bench was taunting USF for a few moments until they realized what was going on. DeDe Lattimore was really not amused -- he was all the way out at the hashmarks screaming at the UTEP bench. The Miners went three-and-out after that, gave up a touchdown on the Bulls' next drive, and then Sam Barrington pick-sixed them on their next play from scrimmage. See ya later.)
While USF did adjust on defense and forced some turnovers in the second half, they were still pretty lucky to be facing UTEP's third-string quarterback, Carson Meger. He helped stop a few of the Miners' drives himself with bad passes, but in the first half the Bulls weren't getting much push up the middle against either the run or the pass. They were making some dumb decisions, like Jon LeJiste misjudging Meger's touchdown pass to Anthony McGhee and coming underneath the receiver for a pick when he would have had position to make a play by just staying where he was. It was annoying to watch the defense play. You had a feeling they watched a lot of Pittsburgh tape this week, but then you remembered that UTEP and Pittsburgh have some similarities on offense and got annoyed all over again.
Fortunately the offense was balling for the third week in a row. It's impressive to watch B.J. Daniels continue to look like the game is happening in slow motion. He wasn't quite as sharp as he had been throwing the ball, but when you run for 376 yards it doesn't quite matter. I'm most impressed with how Daniels makes the right decision on running plays over and over and over again. The right guy always got the ball right where it had to be to pick up solid gains. It also helped that UTEP couldn't tackle to save their lives. Daniels ran one 71 yards for a touchdown, weaving in and out of trouble all the way down the field. Then that Victor Marc touchdown run was hysterical -- he started looking for a place to get tackled at, like, the 40-yard line and UTEP just wouldn't oblige him. Finally he decided around the 20, "The hell with this, I'm gonna try and score!" And he did.
Add it all up and you have a game that was never in doubt, but the Miners hung around a lot longer than they should have been allowed to. A better team might have beaten USF last night with the simple and glaring mistakes they made. And there isn't much time to clean up the mistakes before they head to Pittsburgh (who just so happens to be a better team) on Thursday night.
P.S. Shout out to Mike from The Bull Rush and Mark from Big East Coast Bias, along with his wife and brother, all of who watched the game with me and Toro and were a pleasure to hang out with. Bonus shout out to Matt of The Bull Rush, and noted social media gadfly Senator Giggity, who I met before the game. Mike and Matt also got to see me break everyone's brain by winning a cornhole game playing defense.