BULLS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : AUGUST 31
By Leo Haggerty

Boy, was I getting a tongue-lashing in the press box from my media brothers as USF fell behind early at San Jose State. It got even worse as the Spartans raced to a first quarter 16-0 advantage.

I just reminded them that there’s still three quarters of football to be played and that 16 points wasn’t going to be enough to win this game.  Plus, South Florida was on pace to have  at least 20 possessions. That, in my book, equates to at least 40-plus points for the Bulls Mach 1 offense.

Well, USF came back and won going away to the tune of 42-22.  The offense woke up and the defense created three turnovers plus the special teams became special.  And I came up smelling like a rose.

I said this was a trap game for the Bulls. Cross country plane flight. New coach with new schemes on offense and defense. Opponent coming off a 4-8 season. USF ranked in the Top 25. 20-plus point favorite. Need I say more.

The Green & Gold started slow on offense. A lot of that had to do with some horrific field position. Also, it looked like QB Quentin Flowers, who is a bonafide Heisman Trophy candidate, was a bit amped up along with the rest of his offensive compadres.

The defense got snookered on a few trick plays early. Plus they lost their cool and that was exemplified when DL Deadrin Senat was ejected for targeting.

The icing on the cake was when San Jose State blocked a punt and the Spartans seemed to be in total control. That may have been the wake up call for all three parts of the Bulls team.

Exit first quarter and enter second quarter and the entire complexion of the game flipped 180 degrees.  Within seven minute, South Florida was up 21-16. By early in the final quarter, USF was comfortably ahead having scored 42 unanswered points.

What changes have to be made?  That’s an easy one. Obviously, the Bulls offense cannot afford to sleepwalk through an entire quarter. Their offense, designed to strike quickly at Warp speed, has to put up points early and often.

On the defensive side of the ball, South Florida needs to be physical but it must be a controlled aggression. No frustration penalties that lead to ejections. USF has to be stout at the point of attack and, when the situation presents itself, create a turnover.

On special teams, no more breakdowns that lead to sudden change opportunities for the opposition. Play a clean game. It’s more important to not allow a big play than to have one of your own.

Bottom line is the Bulls are 1-0 and the hardest game to win is the first.  They’ll go for win number 2 in the home opener against Stony Brook on Saturday.  See you at the RayJay for that one.