(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is Part 4 of our 2010 season review, complete with as many Ben Folds lyrics as we can shoehorn in. Part 1 addressed the Jim Leavitt firing and the hiring of Skip Holtz, while Part 2 looked at spring practice and the summer break. Last time, we reviewed fall practice and the glorious first game against Stony Brook.)
I was ready for the next game. I flew into Tampa, met up with Toro, drove up to Gainesville, and spent Friday night in some crummy, dank, airless downtown club, chatting with one of Toro's friends by writing everything on our phones because we couldn't hear each other talk. Then I woke up early Saturday morning, ate something bad from Panera in the proud Gainesville tradition, got a cold gallon of Gatorade (sue me, it tastes a hell of a lot better than any other sports drink), drank the whole thing before the game, went in the stadium, found our seats, put on like half a bottle of sunblock, and settled in.
The game started following the traditional "USF major upset" template. The Bulls put a 96-yard touchdown drive together on the opening series that was about as impressive as any drive in school history. That 7-0 lead held up for almost the entire first half. Caleb Sturgis bricked a field goal late and the Bulls got the ball back. If they could get something going again, and maybe kick a field goal to go up 10, and then get the ball out of the locker room, they would be well on their way to pulling yet another stunner over the number-one badass in the state.
It was at this point in the season that our starting quarterback, the one player on the entire team that no one had any questions about all the way through spring and summer, decided to start a month-long face plant.
Started the show
And the people were shouting my name
As the house lights came down
And the spotlight followed me out
I waved hello to the crowd
As I busted ass off the front of the stage
It was beyond ugly. We were watching him, watching him fall over and over again, in every way imaginable. Granted, the receiver situation went from a crisis to a full-on disaster when Dontavia Bogan tweaked his ankle on the first series against the Gators, left early, and then missed the Western Kentucky game. But B.J. Daniels turned into a bad-decision-making machine. He threw interceptions. He threw terrible interceptions (like the one that Justin Trattou returned for a touchdown to officially end any chance of USF winning in the Swamp). He missed wide-open receivers running free down the field for touchdowns. He tried to force passes that shouldn't be made. He threw inaccurate passes when a good throw would have succeeded. He couldn't run either, because he had the start of an injury that would eventually force him out of the lineup for the last game and a half of the regular season. (FORESHADOWING)
Maybe it was a rush of adrenaline
As the concrete rose to meet my face
Maybe it was the sheer embarrassment
That kept me conscious and standing as I
Crawled back up on the stage
And started pounding out the first song
There was blood on the keyboard -- oh my God
USF managed to recover and win an incredibly ugly game against Western Kentucky, and they beat up on an awful Florida Atlantic team. But Syracuse blitzed Daniels into the ground, and by the time the Bulls went to Morgantown, B.J. was such a basket case that the coaches no longer trusted him to throw passes down the field. Against the Mountaineers, he had an almost impossible stat line -- 20-for-30 for 119 yards and three picks.
The season looked like it was circling the drain. What were we going to do, turn the keys over to Bobby Eveld? A walk-on freshman? That's never going to work. (FORESHADOWING) No, we had to go down with this ship. We are nothing but realistic about our school's place in the world at any given time, and after the West Virginia game we placed ourselves at the bottom of The UConn Blog's conference power rankings, where our nemesis On the Banks had had us since day one.
Actually, that's wrong. We put ourselves seventh, and voted Rutgers last out of absolute frothing hate.