SIGHTS & SOUNDS OF SOUTH FLORIDA FOOTBALL – MARCH 29
By Leo Haggerty
USF SPRING GAME
2020 is a year the USF football program, and the rest of the athletic world, wants to forget. After having to shut down football operations immediately after just a single spring practice in the middle of March due to a world wide pandemic, South Florida attempted to play an abbreviated and rearranged schedule starting in the middle of September. After an opening game win over The Citadel, the Bulls proceeded to lose their next eight tilts as they battled not only the guys in the other color jersey but also the unseen Covid enemy.
To South Florida’s credit, the Bulls just finished off a complete turnaround in 2021 with their Green & White Spring Game at Raymond James Stadium. That, my loyal readers, is a huge accomplishment as you will see from the answers I received from Head Coach Jeff Scott.
Also, I wanted to splash some of the excellent photos that were taken by our Its Sports Magazine photo journalists, Chase Crisp and Matt Crisp, throughout the article instead of waiting until the end for two reasons. First, they did an excellent job of taking over a hundred shots. Second, it’s the first time in over a year that we have been given the opportunity to get our photographers on field level for a USF football game. Great job, guys.
Below are the three questions that I was able to ask Coach Scott after the game. As usual, mine tend to lean toward the human element of the game especially after what the Bulls first year head man, and his staff and players, had to endure. Enjoy.
My first question of Scott was this. Was the biggest positive of the day just making it through Spring Practice to play a game? He replied, “Yes, no question about it. Last year, when we had to cancel spring ball, we weren’t even thinking about it. We had bigger issues. Trying to figure out what was going on with the coronavirus. The new things that were going on. We just blew past it. Now, going through 15 spring practices and, when I got back in the coaches locker room one day, I just asked how in the world did we not do this last year? How did we prepare a team without going through these situations? There is so much you get accomplished. It’s not just the 15 practices. It’s the day before and the day after that’s unique. It’s over 30 days that you are out there with these guys. I feels a lot different and I know that we aren’t completely out of the woods yet. We do feel that we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. At the end of the day, everybody went through adversity and not just us. It was every team in the country. Some teams will come out stronger than when they started and some will not. I feel that I can definitely say that our team is coming out stronger after everything this group went through last year.”
I also queried the Bulls Head Honcho as to the importance of playing at Raymond James Stadium. He responded, “Yeah. I was walking around here during pregame just looking at the paint left over from the Super Bowl. Not too many people are playing their spring game on the same field that hosted the Super Bowl. I just have to say it was a beautiful day. I was standing on the field the whole time just looking around and thinking that this is a beautiful place. We have a great venue located in one of the best cities in the country right here in Tampa. Today, we were able to put that on display. There’s no doubt that I think that Raymond James Stadium is awesome for us and our players. They enjoy playing over here and I look forward to getting back over here in September.”
Finally, I questioned the Green & Gold gridiron boss as to whether he, now that a successful Spring season was in the books, would head home to his favorite easy chair to check out his brackets and just exhale and relax. After a quick laugh, he said, “Oh, man. Well, I will sit down in my chair but I won’t be looking at the brackets. In fact, I didn’t even know they were playing right now. You just saying that reminded me because I’ve been so locked in. Other than watching our women’s team play, I really haven’t had a chance to watch a lot of that. Overall, my feeling is that we accomplished something that we didn’t do last year and that was make it through a spring. Not just make it through a spring but really get better. These guys, I’m just so proud of them for they way they pushed. They showed up every single day. We’re off to a great start this year. Pretty much the first quarter is over and I’m going to sit down with a lot of optimism as to what we have ahead of us because of everything that I’ve seen from these young men over the last three months and what we have ahead of us.”
So, now its time for a break. The players will head home for Spring Break and then head back to campus for exams. Then, it’s time for summer workouts and, before you know it, we’ll be back out covering the 2021 edition of the Green & Gold football team in August. Until then, stay safe and enjoy some more photos from the game.