BULLS – AFTER THE DUST SETTLES : UCONN
By Leo Haggerty
OK, let’s get the arithmetic out of the way quickly. USF traveled north to face UConn and came away with a 48-22 victory. That moved the Bulls to 2-3 on the campaign and 1-1 in the American Athletic Conference East Division. The Huskies dropped to 1-4 overall and 0-2 in the AAC East.
Now, that we have the important stuff covered, let’s get inside the numbers. Trust me, there are some very interesting stats that came to my attention while I was watching the tilt.
First of all, and probably the most important statistic of the game, South Florida finally got their offense into high gear with the emphasis on the running game. The Bulls put up 503 yards of total offense with 313 of them via the overland route. RB Jordan Cronkrite led the way with 148 yards on 20 carries.
By averaging 7.5 yards a rush, the USF running game took the pressure off QB Jordan McCloud. The Tampa native did not have to win the contest himself but just manage the game. All the redshirt freshman needed to do was take what the Connecticut defense gave him and that’s exactly what #12 did.
McCloud was 11-of-21 for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns. That’s the good news. The bad news was that the Plant High School alumni threw two interceptions. They weren’t a factor this week against a weak Huskies football team but, moving on to the rest of the season and the toughest part of the South Florida schedule, that number has to drop considerably or it will be a long year for the Bulls.
Also, USF jumped out to an early 14-0 lead That was huge for two reasons. First, it made the Huskies play catch-up. It is exponentially easier to play with a lead than it is to play from behind.
That fact flows right into the second reason which is that the entire offensive playbook was still available. In the losses to Wisconsin and SMU, the Bulls got behind early and by a big number. South Florida was forced to totally abandon the run. That led to defenses just rushing the passer with reckless abandon and that’s never a good thing.
Finally, let’s be completely honest here. This was a game that USF expected to win. The Green & Gold had better athletes on both sides of the football. Losing this game would have been cataclysmic to the entire program.
This week, the price of poker goes up and that’s an understatement BYU is the Homecoming opponent and the Cougars are flat-out good. It will take a maximum effort for the Bulls to string together consecutive wins for the first time in the 2019 campaign.
How will the Bulls do it? Check out my GOAL LINE STAND column later this week to see my four keys to victory. Until then, enjoy.