BULLS : AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : HOUSTON
By Leo Haggerty
USF went to Houston and got blasted 57-36. The loss dropped the Bulls to 7-1 and 3-1 in the AAC East. The Cougars improved to 7-1 and remained an unblemished 4-0 in the AAC West.
OK, was anyone surprised with the USF loss Saturday afternoon in the Lone Star State? It sure as heck didn’t sneak up on me.
We have witnessed the Green & Gold win games in the last quarter against less than top-tier competition. South Florida would dig a hole and then claw their way out of it at the end to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Against a very good Houston squad, that pit was just too deep to escape.
Let’s go back to my GOAL LINE STAND column. There we two huge goals that I stressed the Bulls needed to achieve. Sadly, they came up woefully short on both.
First, USF needed to set the tone with their defense. From the opening series, when Cougars QB D’Eriq King shredded the Green & Gold with a long touchdown run, the South Florida defense was on its heels. The Bulls got down 14-0 early before they even got their sea legs on defense.
When the South Florida defenders needed to get off the field, they failed to do so for a majority of the time. UH was 13-for-18 on third down and 2-for-2 on fourth down. That’s a 75% success rate and that’s not going to beat the Good Sisters of the Poor.
That led to the fulfillment of one of my prophecies and that was UH could hang 50 on the Bulls if they don’t step it up on defense. Well, the Cougars dropped 57 on USF and not too many teams, if any, can score 58 so the South Florida’s fate was sealed.
The second key to victory that the Bulls failed to achieve was keeping King under wraps. # 4 rushed 16 times for 102 yards including two touchdowns along with hitting 28-of-41 passes for 419 yards and five TDs.
So, King was majestic putting up 521 yards of total offense and being responsible for seven, you heard that right, touchdowns. I don’t know about you, but that’s not my idea of keeping a player from beating you.
The Bulls learned a painful, but valuable, lesson. As HC Charlie Strong has tried to impress on his chargers all season, you have to put together a 60-minute game. Hopefully, the team gets the message now because there’s still a lot of football to be played.