BULLS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : TULSA
By Leo Haggerty
OK, let’s put this truism out there right now. The sign of a “good” team is, when they aren’t playing well, being able to come back at the end of the tilt and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. The sign of a “great” team is, when they’re not playing well, that they lock up the win long before the contest gets to desperation mode.
So, now comes the big decision on my part. Are the Bulls a “good” team” or a “great” team. Well, as I used to say during my coaching days, let’s watch the film because the “one-eyed monster” does not lie.
First, the positive. The Green & Gold are 6-0 and you are what your record says you are. So, with so few undefeated teams in Division I, you would surmise that would put South Florida in the “great” column at least for now.
Now, the negative. The Bulls, and I’m talking specifically about the offense, have started almost all their games so far this season in low gear at best. Sometimes, in reverse. It’s taken the USF offense until late in the first half, and sometime not until after halftime, to punch it into high gear.
So, I would have to say the Bulls are on the cusp of being a “great” team but not there yet. Actually, leaning more toward the “good” right now but that can change.
There’s an old axiom in coaching and that is, “Statistics are for losers” but not in this case. Let’s look at a couple of key points from the last game with Tulsa that will justify my hypothesis.
First, the Bulls dug their usual first half hole by being down to the Golden Hurricane 10-3 at intermission. This has been the rule rather than the exception over the first six contests. It’s an alarming trend and you can bet the house payment that HC Charlie Strong and his coaching staff are working feverishly to overcome that trend.
Second, South Florida ran 87 plays and only scored 25 points. That was due to the fact that the Bulls were 10-of-20 on third down and 0-of-1 on fourth down.
USF basically moved at will between the 20-yard lines but couldn’t finish the deals until late with two fourth quarter scores and the winning field goal with two seconds left on the clock. That’s a very hazardous minefield to traverse especially looking at the upcoming games.
Now, UConn should not present a problem if this behavior continues for another week. The environment changes with road games at Houston and Temple, a place where the Bulls have notoriously not done well. Top that off with home contests with a much-improved Cincinnati plus UCF, that one needs no explanation after last year’s classic in Orlando, that could be for the ACC East title along with home field the following week championship game.
As you can see, the schedule “kicks it up a notch or two” over the last six tilts. No room for error here.
It’s time for the Bulls to step it up. That starts with a big Homecoming victory Saturday night.