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USF upset 22nd ranked Navy last night, 52 to 45, to improve their record to 7-2 (4-1) on the season. The Bulls looked unstoppable in the first half, but that changed in the second half after Navy made adjustments and the Bulls began to sub in players. Here is a break down of the two halves.
The first half was all USF as the Bulls went into the break leading 42 to 14 (could have been more if Mitchell Wilcox had not fumbled right before the half). On offense, the Bulls were running all over the Midshipmen to the tune of 279 rushing yards, the most in any half in USF history.
Quinton Flowers, who was limited all week with a sore hamstring, showed no signs of the injury on a 62-yard touchdown run to get the scoring started. D’Ernest Johnson and Marlon Mack would also find the endzone in that opening half as they, along with Flowers, all ran for over 100 yards a piece for the game. It was a dominating first half and a lot of the success can be placed on the offensive line, especially on Marcus Norman and some great blocks he pulled off. USF led 28 to 0 to begin it all.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls came out focused and ready for the Navy triple option. On Navy’s opening three possessions, the Bulls stuffed them on a 4th down run (Nigel Harris made a tackle in the backfield) and then forced two straight punts. I had fully expected Navy to come out running, picking up easy first downs, and for the defense to continue to struggle. Luckily, I was very wrong. The defense took the Temple game to heart, Coach Taggart and Raymond Woodie got after the players (and themselves), and had the unit prepared.
It was a great first half, but things turned in the 2nd half as Navy made its adjustments and the Bulls began to sub in more second team players, which allowed Navy to back in the game.
In the 2nd half, the USF offense slowed it down a bit and scored just 10 points. For the game, they totaled 629 yards of total offense with 412 of them coming on the ground. Part of the slow down in the 2nd half was the Navy offense controlling the clock and the Bulls not needing to put their foot down on the gas as much. In the 4th quarter, Brett Kean and the 2nd team players were in.
On the defensive side of the ball, Navy began to churn up those rushing yards and commanded the time of possession. For the game, they totaled 619 yards with 317 yards of them on the ground. Will Worth got the Navy offense going after being stuffed in the first half and led the Navy offense on several scoring drives. The overall numbers (including that last second touchdown) were a little frustrating despite the victory. I get it, the regulars were out, but our second team players were not up to the challenge and made this game way closer than it should have been after the dominating opening half. Credit has to be given to Navy for fighting back and never giving up despite the deficit USF put them in.
Overall, the team answered the bell after last week’s Temple disaster and looked impressive in the process. They now have a week off to heal up and prepare for Memphis on the road. I was glad to see this team come out focused and ready for Navy. There were some things to complain about, but they minor issues and should not take away from the win over a ranked foe. On to the next one!
by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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