UCF doesn’t need Milton to clobber USF

by Gary Shelton on November 24, 2018 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, USF

Milton grabs knee after hit from USF./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 2 a.m.

Rolling the tape. A little more. A little more. There. That's it.

That's the moment where USF should have called off its season.

It was Oct. 20, an eternity ago in the life of a backpeddling football team. At the time, USF had held on for a 38-30 win over UConn. The team was rated in the Top 25. It was undefeated. All the possibilities were still alive.

And then the floor opened up, and the Bulls dropped through.

UCF trainers attend to an injured Milton./JEFFREY S. KING

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Ford scored the only USF touchdown./JEFFREY S. KING

After the Bulls' 38-10 loss to rival Central Florida -- which played most of the last three quarters without star passer McKenzie Milton, who was injured -- the Bulls completed their regular season collapse. The Bulls lost their last five games -- and gave up a total of 198 points in doing so -- to go from a special season to a barely surviving one.

Oladokun started for the Bulls with Barnett out./JEFFREY S. KING

"We're not a very good football team," Bulls' coach Charlie Strong said. "Looking back, we were fortunate to win the seven games we did win. We're not able to move the ball, and you've got to play defense, and you can't give up big plays."'

That night against UConn, for instance, Jordan Cronkrite had his fifth straight 100-yard game and was third in the NCAA in rushing yards per game. Since then, Cronkrite hasn't had a 100-yard game. He had just 30 yards against UCF.

Despite Milton being hurt with 11:17 to play in the second quarter, the Bulls barely challenged. Part of that was that UCF gained 391 yards rushing, including 181 by Greg McCrae, who scored three touchdowns.

USF did come within 17-10 on a touchdown run by Johnny Ford (who gained 120 yards), but the Knights scored the last three touchdowns to pull away.

"That team right now is better than us," Strong said, "and we've got a ways to go before we can catch them."

Greg Reaves makes the tackle for USF./JEFFREY S. KING

For most of the night, USF looked impotent. Quarterback Blake Barnett missed his second of his last three games, and the play-calling was,well, predictable. During one series from the UCF 12, the Bulls ran four straight times up the middle and were stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-one.

Collapses are nothing new for USF. In 2007, the eam was 6-0 and finished 3-4 afterward, including a 56-21 loss to Oregon in the Sun Bowl. In 2008, the Bulls were 6-1 and finished 2-4. In 2009 they were 5-0 and then went 2-5. In 2011, they were 4-0 and finished 1-7.

This, however, was a complete collapse. The offense went backward. The defense was never reliable. And the team lost out.

Now? Now the Bulls wait for a bowl game invitation.

Perhaps they will not drop it.

Kean looks for a receiver for USF./JEFFREY S. KING















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