BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : TULANE
By Leo Haggerty
The South Florida Bulls host the Tulane Green Wave Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM weather permitting.
USF enters the contest coming off a road lost to Houston. That puts the Bulls at 7-1 on the campaign and 3-1 in the AAC East.
Tulane come to Tampa after a road win at Tulsa. The Green Wave are 3-5 on the season and 2-2 in the AAC West.
Below are my thoughts on the four most important items the Bulls have to successfully accomplish to come away with a victory. Let’s see how close I am to reality. Enjoy.
FORGET ABOUT IT
The biggest fear that any coach has is letting one loss become two. That one bad loss just festers and it’s still on the mind of the players when they take the field for the next game. Then, all of a sudden, they look up at the scoreboard and there’s seven minutes left in the game and they’re down 10 in a contest they should be winning.
In the past few season, USF has avoid this scenario. The Bulls haven’t had consecutive losses since early October of 2015.
That’s a testament to the coaches. Former HC Willie Taggert and current HC Charlie Strong have done a superb job of moving on, win or lose, to the next game.
This week will be a big challenge because Tulane is the ultimate “trap game” on the schedule. It falls after a road game to Houston and before two more away tilts at Cincinnati and Temple.
The Bulls need to forget about the Houston loss and focus on the task at hand which is the Green Wave. If they don’t, they could be looking up at the Jumbotron Saturday night inside the RayJay and see Tulane with the lead late in the contest.
COME READY TO PLAY
Last week, Houston jumped all over the Green & Gold at the outset. USF was down 14-0 before any late-arriving fans had settled into their seats.
To the Bulls credit, they found a way to come up with a couple of stops. Plus, the offense found paydirt and evened the score at 14 all.
The problem was that South Florida expended so much energy just trying to get back into the contest. When it came to the fourth quarter, the Bulls had nothing left in the tank on both sides of the football.
The Green & Gold, who have been notoriously slow starters this year, must break that habit. The offense must find a way to put up points on their first possession. The defense has to get a three-and-out, or at least force a punt, on their initial trip on to the gridiron.
The bottom line is the Bulls need to come ready to play from the opening kickoff. Don’t wait until the second quarter to flip the switch because it could be too late.
NEVER HAVE ENOUGH POINTS
This one is simple. Score, score and score some more.
When it comes to lighting up the scoreboard, the only conference close to rivaling the AAC is the Big 12. In fact, it’s a toss up as to which of those two conferences have the more explosive offenses.
South Florida needs to go into every conference game with the mindset that you need 36 points to win. That’s because the opposition is going to put up 35 on a bad day.
As we’ve seen in the past, most AAC games are offensive slug fests. South Florida shouldn’t expect this one to be any different.
KNOW WHAT’S AT STAKE
Guess what? The Bulls control their own destiny.
That’s right. No scoreboard watching. No hoping someone beats someone else.
Just win. That’s all the Green & Gold need to do. Win the next four (home against Tulane, away at Cincinnati, away at Temple, home for a grudge-match with UCF) and USF is heading back to Houston December 1st to play for the conference championship.
That’s all any coach or player wants. It right there for the taking so South Florida needs to man up and grab it.
So what’s my call? The Bulls take the first step in their four-game gauntlet to the AAC title game. USF, 42-31, in a typical AAC scoreathon.
See you at the TV. Or, better still, at the RayJay.