By Leo Haggerty


Tulsa rolled into Raymond James Stadium Friday night and put a 45-13 beatdown on South Florida.  The Golden Hurricanes improved to 2-1 (1-1 in the American Athletic Conference) and the Bulls dropped to 1-5 (0-4 in the AAC).

Tulsa score first at the 12:10 mark of the opening period.  QB Zack Smith found JuanCarlos Santana with a 33-yard strike.  K Zack Long made the PAT to stake the Golden Hurricanes to a 7-0 advantage.

USF would cut into the lead twice in the first quarter and both by field goals.  K Jeff Sackett was good from 39 yards away at 9:59 to trim the Tulsa lead to 7-3.  Sackett connected again at 6:57. This time the boot was from 25 yards and the Green & Gold got to within a point at 7-6.

Both times South Florida was deep in Tulsa territory and had to settle for field goals.  The Bulls offense struggled in the red zone all evening.  When asked that question, HC Jeff Scott replied, “Yeah, we definitely did not do well in the red zone.  We knew it was going to be tough running it inside.  The previous two teams they played struggled at running the ball inside.  We knew we had to get the ball outside on the perimeter.  There were some game plan thoughts and ideas that we just really didn’t execute.

The second quarter was all Tulsa as the Golden Hurricanes kept the Bulls offense bottled up while running roughshod through the USF defense.  Corey Taylor II carried the pigskin in from the 3-yard line at 12:23. With 4:54 left in the second period, Deneric Prince rambled 27 yards to paydirt.  Long was good on both PATs and both teams went to the locker room with UT holding a 21-6 lead.

One of the biggest problems for South Florida Friday night on defense was stopping the run.  When queried if having the lead would help, Coach Scott responded, “I think it’s important to stop the run.  I don’t know if having the lead is going to make them not run the ball.  We really need to get better in every area.  Part of that is on coaching.  We need to look at what we’re doing and find a way to coach it and teach it better.  We have to play better and execute better but I don’t think there’s just one thing to work on.  All positions and all three phases need to be improved during the open week.

South Florida got on the board first after intermission.  QB Noah Johnson connected with Bryce Miller at 8:43. Sackett’s kick was good and that cut the lead to 21-13.

Any thoughts that the Bulls were mounting a comeback were snuffed out quickly.  Tulsa put up the next 21 points in the third period.  Prince went on a 62-yard scamper just a 1:17 after the USF TD.  Then, just 90 seconds later, Zaven Collins goes 38 yards with a Pick Six.  The quarter was capped with Taylor rambling in from a yard out with 2:21 left in the third period.  Long was good on all three conversions putting the Golden Hurricanes in total command leading 45-13 and that was the final arithmetic.

USF now goes to a much-needed bye week.  When asked if he’s seeing some good things or if it’s back to the drawing board, Scott said, “It’s tough because the result continues to be the same thing.  There were some positive things tonight.  Daquan Evans had another interception tonight.  He continues to find the ball.  K.J. Sails had a really nice punt return.  We continue have some nice kickoff returns.  Omarion Dollison made some nice plays as a really young freshman.  I though, at times, that Noah Johnson moved our offense and did some really good things.  So, I felt defensively on first and second down, we made some nice plays.  It’s just the consistency of doing that.  We just haven’t been consistent enough in our execution of doing that to be able to win.  So, I’m not saying that we need to start completely over because we have made some progress.  I was disappointed that, when we got it back to an eight-point game in the third quarter, we let it get away from us so quickly.  There are some things that we’ll build from and learn from and continue to go to work.

That road doesn’t get any easier for the Bulls.  After the bye week, USF hits the road for a Saturday noon contest at Memphis.  Meet you at the TV for that one