BULLS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : HOUSTON
By Leo Haggerty
OK, Bulls fans, let me get this out there right now. Houston won the game on the scoreboard Saturday afternoon 28-24. In reality, USF lost the contest and below I will explain why I’ve come to that conclusion.
In my opinion, there were three major game-changing plays in the tilt. The problem was that South Florida came out on the short end of the stick on all three.
First, in the initial quarter in a scoreless game, the Bulls chose to distain a chip-shot field to try and move the chains on fourth-and-short. Sadly, the Green & Gold came up short and turned the football over on downs to the Cougars.
Personally, I agree with HC Charlie Strong’s decision to roll the dice. The game was still in its infancy and a touchdown could have jump-started South Florida.
Second, and here’s the one I have to question the rationale of Coach Strong, was another easy field goal opportunity deep in Houston territory. Again, USF passed up a sure-fire three points to go for the first down and the Green & Gold rolled craps.
This decision I vehemently disagreed with. Why, you ask, was I on board with the first call and not the second? On the surface, seems like same situation so it should be the same scenario, right?
As Lee Corse so aptly says, “Not so fast, my friend.” There was one huge difference and that was the score.
This time, South Florida was up 7-0 and it’s all about risk-reward. You risk not scoring , which is exactly what happened, to going up two scores. Bad call by USF in this case.
Finally, you have the play that swung the momentum pendulum from the Bulls to the Cougars. And this, ladies and gentlemen, was not a coaching error.
Let me set the stage for you. After a 10-yard sack by the South Florida defense, Houston faced a fourth-and-24 late in the final stanza. Yes, folks, you read that right. 2-4.
Well, miraculously, the Cougars were able to complete a 30 yard pass and get a fresh set of downs. This led to the winning score in the waning seconds of the game.
The bottom line is you cannot allow a fourth-and-a-week conversion. Someone has to step up and make a play. Sack the quarterback or force him to throw early. Reroute a receiver or knock down the pass. Intercept the pass Ir tackle the ballcarrier before he get to the stick.
Like I said, if the Bulls would have made any one of the three above plays, they would be 9-0. They didn’t and USF is 8-1.
The key now is to not allow one loss to become two. How will South Florida do that? Check out my GOAL LINE STAND column later this week and find out.