BULLS – GOAL LINE STAND : GEORGIA TECH
By Leo Haggerty
Yes, I’m the one who picked the Bulls to beat the Badgers 30-28 last Friday night. I thought the hiring of new Offensive Coordinator Kerwin Bell would breathe life into a stagnant offense. That would keep USF in the game and allow them to use their overall team speed to steal a win late in the contest.
At worst, I thought it would be a close and competitive football game. As you can tell from the final outcome, which was a 49-0 Wisconsin victory, I was dead wrong.
My only saving grace is that I wasn’t the only one that was wrong. Nobody foresaw the total dominance that UW showed in all phases of the game against South Florida.
There is one simple question that the tilt with Georgia Tech will answer. That query is were the Badgers that good or the Bulls that bad?
We should know that answer sometime Saturday afternoon. Below are the four boxes that USF has to check to get that elusive first win of the 2019 campaign.
1ST DOWN – DON’T LET ONE LOSS BECOME TWO
This is huge. The Green & Gold have to have what I refer to as convenient Alzheimer’s when it comes to the opening day debacle against Wisconsin. USF cannot have any lingering afterthoughts about the 49-0 beating the Badgers laid on them. If they do, it’ll be the same outcome in Atlanta against Georgia Tech who will be really ready to play after losing to South Florida last year at Raymond James Stadium.
To coin a Jersey phrase, you have to “forget about it” if you’re USF. If they don’t, it’ll be a long trip home from Atlanta with an 0-2 record and that’s not good no matter who you are.
2ND DOWN – LEARN FROM THE WISCONSIN GAME
Almost every coach, to a man, will tell you it’s easier to teach after a win than after a loss. That’s because you have some good points to build as a base.
HC Charlie Strong and his coaching staff do not have that luxury. The only positive for the Bulls is that they won the coin toss. Trust me, after sitting through that performance, it’s no exaggeration.
The Green & Gold need to “go to school” on what caused the downfall against the Badgers and change that behavior. The good news is that all of the shortcomings are fixable.
One thing is for sure. Strong and his cohorts will have the undivided attention of every member of the team after laying an egg in the home opener.
3RD DOWN – GET THE LEAD
It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that it’s easier to play with a lead than it is to play catch up. The Bulls found that out the hard way in the opener especially against a ground oriented offense the likes of Wisconsin.
When USF got down 14-0 it was like being behind 28-0. The Badgers game plan is to run behind their mammoth offensive line and chew up clock in the process which they did to perfection.
Now, this Tech is not the old Tech. Former Yellowjackets HC Paul Johnson concentrated on the run like Badgers HC Paul Chryst but came at it from a different angle. UW likes to play power football and run it down your throat. GT used to grind away with an option attack.
The Ramblin’ Wreck, under new HC Geoff Collins who came from Temple University in the AAC, will run the offense he ran with success in Philadelphia. USF is very familiar with that style as the Green & Gold have witnessed it, up close and personal, for the last two seasons against the Owls.
Georgia Tech got blasted by Clemson at Death Valley last week. Having to open up with the Tigers when they hoisted the NCAA 2018 National Championship banner was not a good scenario for the Gold & White. Not too many teams, if any, were going to beat HC Dabo Swinney’s charges that night so the outcome is not a good indicator of how good or bad the Yellowjackets happen to be.
I got a feeling, after the results that both teams experienced in the opener, that the team that gets down will have an extremely hard time getting that train going in the right direction. That’s why it is vitally important that South Florida gets the lead early and takes the home fans out the game as well.
4TH DOWN – SHORTEN THE GAME
USF needs to go into the contest Saturday afternoon with this mindset. The Bulls do not want to get in a shootout where the first team to 40 points wins.
That’s because South Florida right now, on offense and defense, is an unknown quantity. The offense put up a goose egg against Wisconsin and the defense let the Badgers post almost half a hundred.
With that being said, The Green & Gold on offense needs to put together some time-consuming drives. On defense, the Bulls need to get off the field when the opportunity presents itself.
South Florida was unable to accomplish either goal against a top 20 elite Wisconsin team. I think the Bulls will be able to do these things against a Georgia Tech squad that is in transition.
New coach and a new philosophy as well as new schemes will appear up in Atlanta. If it were later in the year, I may change my tune but I look for South Florida to come away with their first victory of the season by a score of 26 -24 with a late field goal.
See you around the television Saturday afternoon. Enjoy.
We have two of our photo-journalist contributing pictures today. All shots above this paragraph were provided by Jeffrey Neil Fox. All the photos below were done by Trace Crisp.