South Florida looking for payback

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, September 26, 2000

Sports Editor

South Florida wants

Troy State this weekend.

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The Trojans travel to Tampa, Florida to take on the Bulls in hopes of maintaining their position at No. 1 and coming away from Raymond James Stadium with a 5-0 record.

But South Florida may have other ideas.

"I’m sure the coaching staff at USF will be using the fact that we’re No. 1 to motivate their team," said TSU Head Coach Larry Blakeney.

" They’ll also be thinking about how we beat them last season."

Last year, the Bulls came into Richard M. Scrushy Field at Memorial Stadium and shocked the home crowd, leading by as much as 14 points during the first half, before the Trojans’ defense was able to help pull out a 41-24 victory.

During the game Troy State junior linebacker Jimmy McClain returned two interceptions for touchdowns. The first came with the Trojans down 21-14 in the third quarter, as McClain picked off USF quarterback Marquell Blackwell’s pass and returned it 71 yards for the tying score. McClain’s second interception and touchdown came with 1:01 left in the fourth quarter, this time from 43-yards out. McClain was named Southland Football League Defensive Player of the Week for his effort.

The Trojans were idle this weekend and began focusing on a game plan for South Florida on Monday. Blakeney said he can’t emphasize enough as to how well-coached a football team South Florida is.

"They just have an excellent coaching staff and they won’t beat themselves," he said. "I fully expect this game to be decided in the fourth quarter."

Blackwell returns at quarterback for the Bulls and Blakeney said he was especially concerned with containing the explosive sophomore. Blackwell passed for 1620 yards last season for 16 touchdowns with 10 interceptions.

"He’s a lot like (Alabama State quarterback) Darnell (Kennedy)," said Blakeney. "But Darnell is more of a passer and when he scrambles he’s looking to throw the football. Blackwell’s looking to run with it."


Blackwell shredded the Southwest Texas State defense with a 48-yard touchdown run in the rain last year and had the longest run of the season for South Florida –

a 50 yarder against Southern Illinois.

Before the 2000 season begin, Bulls’ Offensive Coordinator Mike Canales drew comparisons between his starting quarterback and Shaun King, who played at Tulane and is now with the Tampa Bay Bucanneers.

"Marquel Blackwell is our Shaun King, and we’ll look to put some things into the offense that bring that out in Marquel," Canales said.

As for the Trojans’ offense, Brock Nutter and company will be going up against a Bulls’ defense which returns all 11 starters from last season.

And it shows.

Against 1-A opponents this season, the USF defense has given up a total of 55 points. The Bulls lost to Kentucky, 27-9 in the second game of the season and last week to Baylor, 28-13.

But when the opponent is a Division 1-AA foe, the Bulls have given up just seven points, Those seven came against James Madison on Sept. 16.

South Florida shut out TSU rival Jacksonville State to open the season.