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The Bulls found themselves down 17 to 0 early in the game as the Syracuse Orange came out on fire, both running and hitting their passes all over the field. I was nervous, I won’t lie after those first 15 minutes. The offense looked off and the Cuse offense was picking the defense apart, but the Bulls put my fears to rest after that opening quarter.

USF Claps Cuse at Carrier Dome 45-20 2016 | SoFloBulls.com (800x460)

Offense: The offense looked bad in the first quarter,(just like the defense did). Quinton Flowers was off in the passing game and the running game could not get going consistently, but in the second half, they finally settled down and got to work. The Bulls finally got on the board on a screen pass from Quinton Flowers to Rodney Adams in the second quarter and just like that, the Bulls never looked. Flowers was able to hit some key passes throughout the game, but the inconsistencies on the underneath routes continued to hurt him throughout the game. However, the offense was able to use their skill players to keep the offensive unit on the field. The jet sweep was a huge weapon all game with Rodney Adams running in for two huge touchdown and even Chris Barr picking up yards late in the game. Marlon Mack returned to form as well, running for a key first half touchdown and another long one in the second half. Mack had 9 carries for 115 yards and the two touchdowns on the ground. Rodney Adams had 4 receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown, and also carried the rock four times for 39 yards and the 2 before mentioned touchdowns. Again Flowers didn’t have the best day, but was 12 for 24 for 183 yards and carried it 11 times for 51 yards. Flower’s didn’t have a monster game, but he did just enough and the skill players around him made the big plays to help USF run away with this game. They will have to clean up a lot of things for next week’s game but for now, we should be happy with the 45 points.

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Defense: The first quarter was not pretty. The Orange came out running right at them, picking up 4-5 yard chunks of yards per carry. They would then hit the quick underneath slant and screens passes, picking up big yardage through the air as they worked in their up-tempo offense. They were also able to consistently convert on third down time after time, keeping the defense on the field. It was frustrating to watch and the Orange quickly had the lead. However, despite a bad first 15 minutes, the unit was able to make adjustments and began to force the Orange to punt. Coach Raymond Woodie and staff began to make adjustments. The linebackers began to move out wider on coverage. The corners played up a bit more on certain patterns, and the front four got pressure and forced Eric Dungey to move and make some bad passes late in the game. The overall numbers they gave up were not pretty on paper, but throughout the flow of the game, the defense made the key stops when they needed. For example, after USF scored its first touchdown, the Bulls were able to rally and make a stop, giving the ball right back to Quinton Flowers and company. Those were the key stops they made throughout the game and those are the ones that count. The Orange threw for 350 yards and ran for 213 yards on the USF defense, but the Bulls held them to just 3 points after the first half, showing that the adjustments worked. Again, they gave up yards, but got off the field when they needed. Auggie Sanchez led the way with 13 tackles, 1 sack, and broke up one pass (that could have been a pick 6). Ronnie Hoggins had 12 tackles with 1 forced fumble and one pass break-up. Nigel Harris had 10 tackles with 1 TFL (he was all over the place). Tajee Fullwood had one tackle and a nice interception. Deatrick Nicholas had 2 tackles and a key interception early in the second half. I think all USF fans were upset with the 3rd down conversions that occurred all game long (Cuse was 12 for 24 on third down), but the Orange were 2 for 5 on 4th down attempts, again showing the Bulls came up big when they had to. There are a lot of things to clean up but they have a week to get it done and will have plenty of tape to watch after this game.

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Special Teams: The special teams unit had a great game for the second straight week. D’Ernest Johnson had the big numbers with 2 punt returns, including an 83-yard touchdown return late in the game, but it was the kickers that really had nice games. Emilio Nadelman pinned the Orange deep with the directional kicks and never allowed the Orange to really get great starting field position. Punter Jonathan Hernandez punted the rock 6 times, averaging 42.8 yards per kick and landed 5 of them inside the Orange 20-yard line, again pinning the Orange deep, flipping the field position game.

So here we are, 3-0 for the first time since 2011. This wasn’t a pretty victory, there are a lot of things to work on, but they won and were able to run away with it after adversity in the first quarter. FSU is up next and you know they will be ready for the contest. It should be a great week heading into the next big game.

by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt


SoFloBulls Blog by Matthew Manuri


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