South Florida falls 34-3 to No. 18 Louisville

South Florida coach Willie Taggart is looking for one thing

after his offense struggled again.

Playmakers.

Teddy Bridgewater threw for 344 yards and three touchdowns and

No. 18 Louisville rebounded from its first loss of the season with

a 34-3 rout of the Bulls on Saturday.

”We’re trying to find some guys to make plays and get a

score,” Taggart said. ”That’s something that’s holding the

football team back is not scoring points. Wherever we can find

them, we’re going to find them. If it’s playing guys both ways,

we’ll do that.”

USF failed to score an offensive touchdown for the third

straight game, all in conference play. The Bulls used three

quarterbacks and were outgained 485 yards to 133.

”We all know that’s our biggest issue,” Taggart said of the

Bulls’ offense.

USF’s sputtering offense was outgained 240 yards to 25 in the

first half. Without two 15-yard penalties on Louisville for not

allowing enough room to field a punt and roughing the passer, the

Bulls wouldn’t have come close to scoring up to that point. The

offense accounted for minus 2 yards on the 13-yard drive that

positioned Marvin Kloss for a 50-yard field goal.

The Bulls don’t have an offensive touchdown since the closing

seconds of a lopsided loss to Miami on Sept. 28. Nevertheless, they

won their first two conference games, scoring on fumble and blocked

field goal returns to beat Cincinnati and running back another

fumble for TD in a three-point win over Connecticut.

Bobby Eveld made his fourth start at quarterback for USF, but

was replaced after injuring his left ankle in the second quarter.

Penn State transfer Steven Bench took over, but didn’t have a lot

more success moving the ball. He gave way to fourth-stringer Mike

White after throwing the interception that Charles Gaines returned

for a TD.

Taggart said White, a freshman, will be his starting

quarterback.

”First, he’s a smart kid,” Taggart said. ”Has a little

swagger that you like at the quarterback position. But he’s still

green.”

The Bulls’ most promising drive of the day, featuring a 24-yard

run by Darius Tice and Bench’s 25-yard completion to Mike

McFarland, ended Tice losing a fumble at the Louisville 19.

Gaines returned a fourth-quarter interception 70 yards for a

touchdown as the Cardinals’ defense reverted to the form that

helped Louisville (7-1, 3-1 American Athletic Conference) climb

into the top 10 before blowing a 21-point, second-half lead at home

during a 38-35 loss to Central Florida.

Bridgewater completed 25 of 29 passes with no interceptions,

hiking his totals for the season to 23 TDs with two picks. In three

career games against USF (2-5, 2-1), the junior from Miami has gone

65 of 82 for 841 yards, eight touchdowns and no interceptions.

”Teddy is a great quarterback,” South Florida defensive tackle

Todd Chandler said. ”He can sense pressure. He knows when to get

rid of the ball. He does a real good job of throwing to the

check-down guys. To be able to stop Louisville’s offense, you’ve

got to get into the head of Teddy and we just kind of fell short

today.”

Dominique Brown rushed for 125 yards and scored on a 5-yard

reception for Louisville. Bridgewater threw TD passes of 20 yards

to Damian Copeland and 69 yards to Gerald Christian.

UCF rallied from a 28-7 deficit to beat the Cardinals – stopping

an eight-game winning streak, dropping Louisville ten spots in the

AP Poll and out of first place in the AAC.

The offense was hardly the problem in the loss, though.

Bridgewater threw for 341 yards, two touchdowns and no

interceptions, but a usually reliable defense was unable to close

it out.

The Cardinals got off to another fast start Saturday, taking the

opening kickoff and moving 90 yards to take a 7-0 lead on

Bridgewater’s 20-yard TD pass to Damian Copeland. A drive to the

USF 1 produced a 19-yard field goal and Christian’s 69-yard scoring

reception helped Louisville to a 17-3 halftime lead.

Bridgewater led scoring drives of 90, 73, 80, 82 and 81 yards.

The Cardinals dominated time of possession 41:43 to 17:47 and had

no turnovers.

”I see him being the No. 1 quarterback taken (in the 2014 NFL

draft),” Taggart said. ”He’s so poised and tough. He’s smart. You

watch his team when they play, they play for him.”