EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — At first, when University of South Florida senior defensive end Ryne Giddins stripped the ball from quarterback Tim Boyle on a second-quarter sack, it rolled toward UConn offensive tackle Kevin Friend.
“Darn,’’ USF sophomore defensive end Aaron Lynch remembers thinking, as he lurked nearby.
But Friend, flailing and stumbling, couldn’t cover the ball.
It was there for the taking.
“I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, it’s me,’ ” Lynch said. “I took that to the end zone.’’
Lynch scooped and scored, racing down the sideline for a 44-yard touchdown. Once again, the ball bounced USF’s way in Saturday’s 13-10 victory against the Connecticut Huskies at Rentschler Field. For the third straight week, USF’s defense scored on a takeaway.
“We want to force turnovers and we want to score on all of them,’’ USF senior middle linebacker DeDe Lattimore said. “It’s like a snowball effect.’’
Last season, USF had nine total takeaways, none of them for scores.
“Giddins got in there and beat the tackle, really got to him before he threw the ball,’’ USF coach Willie Taggart said. “I was hoping they didn’t call the tuck rule.
“Our guys practice that. We have a (practice) dummy and our guys practice getting the ball. To see it go in the game, to execute it the way we practice it, it was great to see. Every week, it’s somebody different.’’
This week, it was Lynch, the transfer from Notre Dame, who played his best game as a Bull.
In addition to the score, Lynch had a sack, 1.5 tackles for a loss and two quarterback hurries.
“I feel like I play the same way every week,’’ Lynch said. “Some weeks, you have more opportunities. I feel like the last few weeks, starting with the Miami game, I’m getting in my groove.’’
Before playing his first down at USF, Lynch already was mentioned as a high NFL draft pick.
Saturday’s sack was his first of the season. But Taggart said Lynch needs to ignore the expectations of others.
“That was part of his problem,’’ Taggart said. “He was trying to live up to that instead of just playing football. Now he’s calming down and getting comfortable with what we’re doing.’’
Scoring a touchdown is bound to boost his confidence.
“We play for turnovers and we practice (getting) turnovers,’’ Lynch said. “If the opportunity presents itself, we’re going to take advantage of it. Honestly, be ready for another turnover next game.’’