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Today we bring you the fifth edition of ‘Bedford’s Bottom Line’ with former USF defensive end and SoFloBulls.com contributor David Bedford. In this week’s Q&A David shares his thoughts on standout defensive back Deatrick Nichols, quarterback Quinton Flowers successful season, Willie Taggart’s Tampa turnaround, and digresses about USF’s defensive atrocities.
USF is coming off a program record tying ninth win after holding on 35-27 down the stretch in Dallas against SMU. USF is coming off a program record tying ninth win after holding on 35-27 down the stretch in Dallas against SMU. The Bulls’ are eyeing victory number ten against rival Central Florida Saturday, and fully intend to keep the newly minted War On I-4 trophy in Tampa. The Knights square off against the Bulls at 12:00 PM on CBS Sports Network. Oh, and here’s Central Florida doing standard Central Florida things…
Without further ado, I bring you the fifth edition of ‘Bedford’s Bottom Line’ Q&A. Enjoy the dialogue and be sure to follow David on Twitter! @OldManBeddy #BeatUCF #WarOnI4 #UCiF #UCFHateWeek #CFlorida
SFHSSports.com Senior Writer Larry Blustein had this to say about Nichols, who came in at No. 23, when compiling his final Top 50 prospects in southeast Florida for the class of 2014 rankings back in February of 2014, “Is there a more physical and aggressive cover-corner in the state of Florida than this impressive football talent? Here is a football player who will not back down from anyone. Nichols is a get-in-your-face kind of player who uses surprising strength, speed and athletic ability to make a difference. This is really an amazing football talent who continues to get better all of the time.” (Link: Nichols’ Miami-Central Highlights)
Nichols made some key plays down the stretch while covering SMU wide receiver Courtland Sutton, including intercepting quarterback Ben Hicks the first drive of the third quarter. How big was the early second half interception for the overall momentum on the USF sideline, especially after Quinton Flowers hit Tyre McCants for a 65 yard touchdown on the next play?
DB: Deatrick Nichols pulling down the interception was big time as both teams jockeyed back and forth. If SMU scored USF scored. If USF scored SMU almost immediately returned the favor, something had to give. Deatrick Nichols’ interception shifted the momentum to the Bull’s sideline and gave USF the confidence needed to win the game.
Quinton Flowers shattered Matt Grothe’s USF season total offense yards record of 3,542 from 2007 Saturday night against SMU. Flowers also notched his seventh game producing 300 yards of total offense, tying Matt Grothe (2008) and Marquel Blackwell (2001). Flowers also posted his eighth 100 yard rushing performance, this time tying B.J Daniels program record from 2009-2012. Flowers is now amongst the greatest names in USF Football history. In your opinion, how would you rate Willie Taggart’s Tampa turnaround? Where could Taggart & Co. improve and where has the staff shined?
DB: There was a time last season when I was unsure if Coach Taggart would get to live out his contract at USF. The Bulls lost winnable match-ups on the road at Florida State and Maryland, and Taggart found himself on the hot seat. Willie Taggart stuck with his game plan and finished 2015 strong. Taggart tuned out the outside noise from fans and hot headed former players, including me. Taggart knew from the beginning that once the roster was made up entirely of his players the program would be great once again. A+ job by Coach Willie T.
However, the Bulls must get better on defense. The USF Football brand was built on hard-nosed defensive play and the Bulls must get back to playing the Leavitt era style defense. I uncertain if that means making a change at Defensive Coordinator, but something has to give. USF cannot continue to get embarrassed on defense like they repeatedly have in 2016.
The SMU defense ‘ponied up’ to limit the short passing game against the dynamic USF Gulf Coast Offense, forcing the Bulls to take deep shots down field. How enjoyable was it to watch Quinton Flowers air mail the rock deep downfield for big gains which such a high level of success?
DB: The deep ball is Quinton Flowers’ bread and butter. Flowers executes many facets of Willie Taggart’s hybrid spread scheme with precision, but Q’s strength simply is not in the short passing game. The Gulf Coast Offense loves to dial up the deep ball, and I certainly enjoy watching Q stretch the defense in the deep passing game.
The USF defense once again allowed an opponent to post over 500 yards of offense, which in case you forgot is absolutely reprehensible. Share your overall thoughts on the Bulls defensive performance over the past few contests and comment on the defensive adjustments you have noticed this season, if any? Finally, call out the one USF defensive player that made the biggest impression on you in the game against SMU, good or bad.
DB: The USF defense performed better on the road in Memphis, but that’s not saying much after the embarrassing last few contests. Deatrick Nichols was the star of the defensive unit against SMU, hands down. Nichols did give up some big plays down field, but his third quarter interception was one of the biggest plays of the night.
DB: As I have said before, the foundation of the USF football program was built on defense, and this season USF did not get it done. Maybe Woodie needs a few years to get the players that fit his defense, but USF did keep Tom Allen’s 4-2-5 scheme after he left for Indiana. If 2017 becomes a repeat of 2016, then a change at Defensive Coordinator must be made.
When was the last time the USF Bulls could finish regular season 10-2? Never! The Bulls are back and must keep the train rolling into the bowl game, and into next season. USF needs a bowl game win for the USF fan base that has been waiting for a post-season victory since the Bulls knocked off Clemson 31-26 in the 2010 Meineke Car Care Bowl. The time is now! Go Bulls!! #BeatUCF #SoFloBulls #BedfordsBottomLine
by Matthew Manuri
Publisher & Editor, SoFloBulls.com | @Mcknurkle
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