By Leo Haggerty


The week started out with the usual Tuesday media availability.  It commenced, as usual, with HC Jeff Scott and was followed by RB Jared Mangham followed by DB Vincent Davis.  Below are their responses to my questions.

LH : A loss is a loss but, in the close ones, you look back on every play.  Is it harder to move on from those kind of defeats?

JS : Yeah but, ultimately, you have to hold it to 24 hours.  Win or lose.  That’s not coach speak.  That’s real.  That’s what you got to really focus on.  Saturday night, that was hard for everybody, right?  For all our players and coaches.  Going back and going what if I had done this different and all that but, when you wake up Sunday morning, you have to shake it off and you have to move forward.  That’s life and that’s how it is.  That’s why God put our eyes on the front of our face and not the back of our head because it’s all about what’s in front of us.  So, that’s really the message for our guys.  Hey, we’re not going to ignore it.  We’re going to show back up Monday morning and watch it.  It’ll make you sick to watch it but you have to watch it.  We have to learn from it so we don’t make the same mistakes the next week.  Then, after that, you have to turn the page.  That’s the great thing about sports, right?  Usually, unless it’s the last game of the year, you have a next game.  For us, we have two games in nine days.  It can’t get any better than that.  You have a tough loss and you just want to go play again.  Guys just want to fast forward and show up tomorrow and going to play.  We have to be able to put in the work along the way this week.

LH : Normally, if your defense is on the field for 94 snaps, that not going to bode well.  How encouraging was it that, even with the defense on the field that long, you had the lead late in the game?

JS : Yeah, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if we play 94 snaps or 5 snaps, we want to win the game.  Yeah, you just take it all in.  Ideally, we don’t want to put our guys in that situation.  I’m pretty honest with our guys.  If you ask them, I don’t say things to blow them up or make them feel good the next day.  These guys are 18 to 27 years old.  They know it.  We talk about it all the time.  They know where we are.  They know what the deal is.  We want to win.  We want to get over the hump and we feel like we’re close to doing it.  That’s where the mindset is right now.

LH : In your two year tenure at USF, that’s two two point losses and a one point loss.  That’s got to be frustrating, right?

JS : Yeah, it’s tough and it’s hard.  Again, I don’t understand why.  I can go back and watch the plays and see some things but, at the end of the day, we’re coming up short.  I have to find a way, as a coach, to help our guys finish when we get in those situations. Yeah, no doubt, that one hurt worse than any of the other ones.  Last year, even if we had won one of those games, we would have been back to square one.  We were nowhere close to the foundation that we have right now.  I really feel like, when we break through soon, that we’re just going to keep getting better and better.  Last year, with everything going on, we were just trying to keep the pieces together.  Maybe, even though it was a similar result, it was a different feeling because I feel our guys played 98% of the game and well enough to win.  Have to give Tulsa credit because they capitalized on the two costly mistakes that we made.

LH : Eleven guys on defense know that you’re getting the football when it’s close to the goal line.  How satisfying is that when you get into the end zone?

JM : Yeah, that’s what I like to tell myself every time I line up.  Obviously, it turns out like you’re having a target on you back.  Teams might prep and line up a different way from what I expect to see and things like that.  It’s still satisfying getting in the end zone.  It’s very exciting getting in there every time.

LH : Have you ever made 13 tackles in a game before?

VD : No, I haven’t.  I haven’t made that many tackles before so that was my personal career high.  That just comes from film study and being in the right place at the right time.  Having my feet where they’re suppose to be and wrapping up.  I did miss tackles in that game and I spent time watching those.  How can I get better?  How can I put my body in the right position to make tackles?  Playing the position that I’m playing, you put your body on the line a lot.  It’s a fine line between making that tackle and stretching out when you have to put your pads on somebody.  It’s all about balance.  I have to get better working on my tackling fundamentals.  Once I have that, I’ll be all right.

On a perfect evening for football in Tampa, South Florida finally got the gorilla off it’s back beating Temple 34-14 at Raymond James Stadium for their first win in the American Athletic Conference in almost two years.. With the victory, USF moved to 2-5 overall and 1-2 in AAC.  The loss dropped TU to 3-4 on the season and 1-2 in the AAC.

After South Florida had taken the opening kickoff and marched into the Temple red zone, the Owls defense stiffened forcing the Bulls to attempt a field goal.  A fumbled snap was scooped up by the Cherry & White CB Keyshawn Paul and #24 seemed to have a clear path to pay dirt but was run down by TE Chris Carter deep in USF territory.  It seemed like that great effort would be all for naught with the Owls starting their initial possession of the contest at the Green & Gold 5 yard line.

After a jet sweep scoring run by WR Jose Barbon on third down was nullified by a holding penalty, Temple tried the aerial route to the end zone.  QB D’Wan Mathis (12 of 21 for 183 yards and 1 TD plus 2 INT) was looking for WR Randle Jones (4 for 100 yards and 1 TD) with a back shoulder throw at the goal line but the pass was deflected and picked off by S Mekhi LaPointe in the end zone.

South Florida then proceeded to post the first points of the tilt at 14:19 of the second quarter.  RB Jaren Mangham (26 for 156 and 2 TD) bulled in from the one yard line ended a methodical 19 play drive that travelled 80 yard and consumed 9:04.  K Spencer Shrader was good with the PAT and the Bulls moved out to a 7-0 lead.

After forcing a Temple punt, USF increased their lead at 4:47 of the second period.  QB Timmy McClain (10 of 13 for 71 yards and 1 TD) rolled to his left and found WR Demarcus Gregory (1 for 4 yards and 1 TD) all alone just over the goal line with a 4 yard strike.  That culminated another marathon drive of 93 yards in 12 plays taking 5:13.  Shrader was true with the extra point and the Green & Gold increased their margin to 14-zip.

It took Temple only one play and nine seconds to dent the scoreboard.  Mathis hit a streaking Jones down the right sideline for a 75 yard catch and run.  K Rory Bell split the uprights and the Owl cut the lead in half to 14-7 at 4:38 of the second quarter.

South Florida immediately answered that score with points of their own with 19 ticks before halftime.  Shrader finished off a 4:19 drive that took 11 plays to go 66 yards with a 26 yard field goal to stretch the South Florida advantage to 17-7 going into halftime.

Temple took the second half kickoff and marched right down the field to score at 11:16 of the third quarter.  RB Edward Saydee (6 for 27 yards and 1 TD) totted the leather the last yard and that ended a eight play drive that went 75 yards in 3:44.  Bell again made the PAT and the Owls crept closer at 17-14.

South Florida changed the scoreboard at 8:17 of the third period.  Shrader blasted a 52 yard field goal that terminated a nine play drive that went 43 yards in 2:50 to push the USF lead to 20-14.

After forcing a three and out, the Bulls padded their lead at 2:41 of the third quarter.  RB Kelley Joiner burrowed in from two yards away that brought to an end a 67 yard drive that took nine plays and 3:59.  Shrader booted the extra point and the Green & Gold sprinted to a 27-14 advantage.

After another Temple punt, South Florida scored again at 11:07 of the final period.  Again it was Mangham powering in from the one yard line.  That drive consumed 4:13 in nine plays going 73 yards.  Shrader was good again with the PAT to up the Bulls lead to 34-14.

Temple had one last chance but that was snuffed out at 10:28 of the fourth quarter.  That’s when LB Antonio Grier picked off a Mathis pass and both teams exchanged non scoring possessions leaving the final arithmetic at 34-14 in favor of the Bulls.

Had a chance to chat with HC Jeff Scott along with Jared Mangham plus Antonio Grier and Kelly Joiner finishing off with C Brad Cecil after the game.  Here’s what they had to say about the Bulls first conference win of 2021.

LH : There’s no doubt that Mangham can run between the tackles.  He made a lot of yards on the edge tonight.  Is he faster than people think?

JS : Yeah, it was great to see.  Again, he’s been one of the great additions to our team and he just brings great energy to our offense.  Like you said, if anybody just thinks he’s a short yardage guy or a goal line guy hasn’t watched a lot of the tape.  He gets out there and makes some plays.  I’m really proud of him but I’m also really proud of that running back room.  It’s difficult when you bring a transfer in and he kind of moves to the front of the line to play.  But Kelly Joiner made some plays out there tonight.  Brian Battie and Darrian Felix had a couple of nice plays.  We told that group that we’re going to need all of you guys.  Also, at quarterback, it’s the same situation and I’m sure I’m going to get this question.  Timmy tweaked his ankle a little bit.  He was cleared to play in the second half but it was more of my confidence in Tra Marsh and Cade Fortin.  It was still a six point game after they went down and scored but Tra and Cade have practiced extremely well.  Like I said, an uncommon response.  It’s real easy as you see guys all over the country getting in the portal and leave but these guys keep showing up.  It was a good opportunity for these guys to go get some playing time.  The way Timmy plays you never know.  He may get hurt and those guys will have to go win a game.  So we decided, right there at halftime, let’s let Tra and Cade go get some reps.  To me, when I look back at this first win, I see three quarterbacks were a part of it.  Let’s see, six running backs and a lot of guys on the offensive line.  We have some secondary folks banged up so it was great that all the guys had to go in and make some plays.  I think that’s encouraging to see a lot of guys getting this opportunity.

LH : It’s not glamorous to run the football.  Do you give Coach Weis a lot of credit for seeing that you could successfully run the ball all night long and sticking with that?

JS : Yeah, absolutely. It’s tempting with my background.  At my former school, I coached wide outs and did a lot of the passing game for a lot of years.  We like our quarterbacks and we like our receivers, It’s tempting to do that.  We took a couple of deep shots but we didn’t quite connect the way we needed to.  This was one of those games where the offensive line was in the huddle and they were saying run the ball.  Run the ball.  Run the ball and I said yes sir.  We’re going to run the ball.  It was just one of those nights when you’re running the ball well.  To be honest, there’s nothing better than to be able to run the ball.  It’s fun, the passing game here and there but where you start is being able to run the football.  It’s one thing to run it when you want to and there’s such a thing as run it when you have to.  Some of those fourth down situations that we went for it, and we made it, was definitely a confidence builder.

LH : A 19 play drive and a nine minute drive.  That’s just dominating, isn’t it?

JS :Yeah and it was fun.  That’s fun to see.  On of the drives we started at the eight yard line and went 92 yards.  Again, watching these guys play hungry.  Watching them play with a passion and with a will that they will not be denied.  One of the TV commentators earlier this week said that we didn’t look like a one win football team. You guys are fun to watch.  Anybody that was out here watching today, I just can’t give our players enough credit for their mindset and they way they have responded.

LH : When you’re in a short yardage situation, all 11 guys in a different color jersey are yelling here comes #0. How much satisfaction do you get knowing that you’re beating that?

JM : A lot because the offensive line knows that too.  I just love those guys because they’re right there backing that up with me.  I just love them and I’m very grateful to have them.

LH : You made a lot of yards on the perimeter tonight.  You’re just not a between the tackles guy, right?

JM : Yeah, I showed a little bit of a wiggle today needless to say.  It was good to get the legs running.  Had to pick them up because they got a little bit heavy but it was fun.  Like I said, I’m just ecstatic about our performance tonight.

LH : When you’re watching Carter chase him down, and you come out on the field after that touchdown saving play, are you saying we have to keep them out of the end zone?

AG : It was just something we had to do. He made a great play and we had to make it count.

LH : Take us through the interception.  What were you seeing?

AG : We were in zone.  Had zone drop. Coach Spencer said to keep a lid on it.  Don’t let them get behind us.  It was a good call.  I don’t believe there’s any wrong calls in football.  It’s up to the players to make the Defensive Coordinator right.  Heart and hard work.  Make an effort to the ball.  That’s what it was tonight.  We were flying around and we had fun.  We had fun.

LH : It looked like you were running a lot of outside zone tonight looking for the cut back.  Was that the case?

KJ : Yeah, you could say that.

LH : When did it hit that we’re going to run the ball all night long?

KJ : After the first series of the game.  Mangham was picking up seven and eight yards.  We felt it was going to be like that all night.

LH : The hogs got to eat at the trough tonight, didn’t they?

BC : They did.  They did and it was awesome.  First of all it starts with the running back for trusting us.  I mean, we have a great room.  We have a lot of great guys in there and they all have special abilities.  To have a group of guys that trust us.  The running back coach trusts us.  Coach Scott trusts us and that’s all we ask for. We’re out there making our blocks and they trust us to open holes so they hit the holes.  That’s really what it comes down to.  My guys up front.  We had nine people play tonight.  It wasn’t just the first five.  The people that broke the record were the people that were, actually, people that were getting their first snaps of the year.  That was extremely exciting to see and it was a big part of the game.  Seeing guys that haven’t played that much get an opportunity to be a part of something that will last forever.

LH : Was this big boy football tonight?

BC : It was.  It was big boy football.  Like I said, credit the running backs and Coach Scott for believing in us and preparing us.  Thy put it on our backs and we won

South Florida doesn’t have time to celebrate it’s first conference win in almost two years.  The Green & Gold are heading to North Carolina to take on East Carolina on Thursday night in Greenville.

Meet you at the TV to see if USF can win two in a row.  Look for our recap sometime Friday.

All photos below are courtesy of our photo journalist Matt Crisp.  Enjoy these great shots of game action.