SHOOTING THE BULL – HOUSTON – NOVEMBER 12
By Leo Haggerty
The Bulls are again road warriors as USF heads to the Lone Star State to take on Houston at TDECU Stadium. Kickoff, weather permitting, is scheduled for Saturday at 3:30 pm.
South Florida comes into the contest with a 2020 log of 1-6 (0-5 in the American Athletic Conference) and are on a six-game losing streak since winning their opener against The Citadel. The Cougars are 2-3 on the season (2-2 in the AAC) and are in the midst of a two-game skid themselves falling to UCF and Cincinnati.
Had my usual weekly media Zoom with Head Coach Jeff Scott. Below are his no-holds-barred detailed responses to my three questions.
LH : When you’re looking at Houston from an offensive and a defensive perspective, is there a player or players that you have to account for on every play?
JS : Yeah, there are. Their wide receivers are electric. #5 (Marquez Stevenson) I believe is one of the best players in our league. He jumps out on video as a playmaker. They find a lot of different ways to get him the ball. I feel that they are very explosive at the wide receiver position. On defense, I was really impressed with their front seven. Their defensive line is very active. They’ve got some strong guys with some great quickness. They know how to use their hands and get into the backfield. I think they are very athletic and strong at linebacker as well. I definitely expect a challenge that our guys need to be ready for.
LH : You talked about how you’ve been forced to move scout team players over to actually play varsity football. That’s brutal now for this year but next year you’ll have a lot of experience coming back. Is that a benefit you’re going to look forward to next year?
JS : Absolutely. There’s no doubt about it. For us right now, when you’re in the season, you have to have the next man up mentality. That’s the main reason that we keep all of players, both scout team and varsity, in all of our meetings so we are prepared for situations like this. When we come back next year, we are going to have a lot of guys that played. They have game experience and I’ll be looking forward to having our 85 scholarship guys and 115 total players then. We are at a small fraction of that right now. I kind of gave this analogy earlier this year. You’re in the on deck circle and you’re swinging that heavy weighted bat. With all that weight on the barrel of your bat. I kind of feel like that’s what this year is for us. I feel like there is an opportunity for a lot of growth and progress for next season.
LH : You’ve had to experience a pandemic and now a hurricane. Do you just look up into the sky and think what’s next?
JS : (A chuckle). You know, the big message that I told our players is don’t flinch. Each coach, and each player, is coming from different situations and different backgrounds. I know, for myself, the last six or seven years there haven’t been very many issues at all. It’s been pretty smooth. I think this is the one year where a lot of the stuff is piling up but, as a competitor and a leader, you have to embrace the adversity. You can’t sit back and have an attitude like oh, woe is me. That’s very easy to do and is a common response. I think for us as leaders, and us as a team, trying to strive and trying to improve you have to stand in the face of it and move forward and not go back. There’s too many excuses and too many reasons why we could just slow down and kind of fade back and say this just isn’t our year but I haven’t seen that. To be honest, I’m still disappointed with the end result last week but I couldn’t be more proud of the mentality that our guys had going into that game last week with all the adversity that we have already faced. You know, we played three-and-a-half quarters of really good ball. I think, the challenge this week is to start over and do that again and approach it the same way. Hopefully, we will have a better outcome in the end.
So, here’s my call for this week’s tilt. USF, even though they are a 14-poit underdog, play a complete football game and finally get a few breaks. USF, 34-31, with a late stop to seal the deal.
Will I be right? Meet you around the TV Saturday to find out. Enjoy.