BULLS – GOAL LINE STAND : UCONN
By Leo Haggerty
Archived under Featured Articles – College & University of South Florida
South Florida makes its farthest excursion northward of the 2019 campaign when the Bulls take on the University of Connecticut in East Hartford this Saturday. Kickoff at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium is scheduled for noon.
USF is 1-3 on the season and coming off a home 48-21 thumping at the hands of SMU. UConn is also 1-3 after losing to UCF 56-21 in Orlando.
Both squads are looking for that elusive first conference victory. With that being said, look for both the Bulls and the Huskies to come out on fire from the opening kickoff.
Below are the four boxes I believe South Florida has to check to come away with a win. I’ll tell you right up front that it won’t be easy to accomplish.
1ST DOWN – WHERE DO YOU STAND
This one is a little dicey but it needs to happen. Why, you ask? Because it will determine the direction the USF football program will be heading.
I firmly believe HC Charlie Strong needs to have a come-to-Jesus meeting with AD Mike Kelly. The Bulls head honcho has to know how hot the seat he is on at the present time.
Strong needs to find out how much his job is in jeopardy if South Florida goes 3-9 or 4-8. If Kelly says that would be unacceptable, then look for Barnett to be the quarterback the rest of the season. With #11 at the helm, he gives the the Bulls the best chance to can get to 6 wins or more.
If Kelly says that would not lead to termination, look for McCloud to be the starter the rest of the season. Also, be prepared for the rebuilding process to begin.
With the South Florida schedule backlogged with their four most difficult conference games, home against Temple and Cincinnati and Memphis followed by UCF in Orlando, #12 will be hard-pressed to win two more contests after UConn. That’s a big negative.
The positive is that going into the 2020 season, McCloud will have had 10 starts under his belt. So, is that reward of gaining game experience for next year worth the risk of losing almost 10 games? That’s the decision that has to be made and made now.
In my opinion, the answer HC Coach Strong gets from AD Kelly on his job security will determine whether it’s #11 or #12 at the helm of the offense the rest of the way barring any injury. It’s all about the W’s, folks.
2ND DOWN – GET PLAYMAKERS THE BALL
This has been a recurring problem for the Bulls. They cannot consistently find a way to get the football to their playmakers, especially the receiving corp, so they can just make plays.
Wide receivers Randall St. Felix and Terrance Horne have been conspicuously absent on game day. They combined for 0 catches against SMU and, at crucical times, weren’t even in the game. It’s been so bad, I’ve started looking for #5 and #80 on the side of milk cartons.
Whoever is the signal-caller Saturday, needs to find a way to get the pigskin to the guys that can take it to the house any time they touch the rock. OC Kerwin Bell desperately needs to get his big play weapons involved immediately.
3RD DOWN – START FAST
In all three South Florida defeats, the Bulls got behind early. That’s usually the kiss-of-death in football and here’s why.
A majority of the time, and in the NFL it’s almost 67% of the time, the team that scores first emerges victorious. It is probably not the same percentage in college but the following premise is similar.
By scoring first, as Wisconsin and Georgia Tech and SMU did, it does two things. First, it gives your offense confidence that they can do it again as the Badgers and Ponies did in bunches.
Second, it puts more pressure on the defense to come up with a stop on the next possession. If they don’t, now the Green & Gold defenders start to doubt lots of things. Is the scheme failing? Is the opponent just better us? Maybe we just can’t stop them? Are they doing something we aren’t prepared to stop? You see where I’m going, right?
Both of those situations are negated if you score first. They are really put to rest if you score often.
USF needs to make UConn play catch up from the opening possession. That keeps the playbook open on both sides of the football.
4TH DOWN – END IT EARLY
This one leads directly from accomplishing the third down goal. The Bulls need to get the lead and then run away and hide.
The worst thing that USF can do today is come out flat. That’s because the longer South Florida lets Connecticut stay in the game, the more confident the Huskies will get that they can win.
The Green & Gold need to take it to UConn from the opening kickoff and put this game in the win column as quickly as possible. If they don’t, the Bulls will be in a dogfight in the final 15 minutes and, as you and I know, anyone can come away with the victory when you have a shot at the end of the tilt.
So, all that’s left is my prognostication. So far this year, I’ve only been right once with the Bulls so here goes.
I just believe that USF has way too many athletes for UConn to handle especially on offense. With that being said, don’t expect the Huskies to roll over and play dead. Connecticut is at home and will compete.
If South Florida isn’t focused and doesn’t come ready to play, this outcome could easily be reversed. USF, 34-24, in a game that’s close until the fourth quarter.