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September 17, 2012One of the obvious issues in USF's disheartening 23-13 loss against Rutgers on Thursday was its inability to get off the field off the field on third downs.
Rutgers converted its fair share of third-and-longs, especially when quarterback Gary Nova found open receivers while he was on the run. In all, the Scarlet Knights converted 8-of-19 third downs.
"We couldn't get off the field," said Bulls coach Skip Holtz, whose team heads into its second road game of the season at Ball State on Saturday. "I thought we played excellent on first and second down. I though our front seven played pretty well but our inability to get off the field on third down and turning the ball over we just made too many mistakes."
Holtz said he didn't plan on making any personnel changes on defense, characterizing some of the breakdowns on defense as just a lack of focus.
Bulls defensive coordinator Chris Cosh said he tried to give Nova many different looks on defense, but the sophomore quarterback was able to buy time and prevent the Bulls defensive backs from sticking with their receivers.
"He had some time to throw it. He also got flushed a few times and had some throwing lanes. The (USF defensive players) came off their man a few times and they converted," Cosh said.
Injury update: Shaw still out
Junior running back Marcus Shaw (ankle) didn't play Saturday and is still being held out of practice.
"He's running straight ahead, it's just where is he with his lateral movements and his cutting ability? As a running back, that's something he needs," Holtz said. "Right now I just don't know if he'll be back yet or not."
Offensive lineman Mark Popek and safety Mark Joyce didn't practice Sunday with minor injuries, but should be back by Tuesday and be ready for Saturday's game.
Holtz said he gave the defensive MVP to senior cornerback George Baker, who made several pass breakups on Saturday USF defeated Ball State 37-7 last season Saturday's game, scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (EST), will be broadcast by Bright house Sports Network and ESPN3.