History was made today as the Bulls won 46 to 39 over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl, giving USF its 11th win of the season (program record). While the final stats are fun to read through and the impressive win total makes everyone proud, this bowl win means so much more than just a stat in the win column. Allow me to explain.
I would be remiss if I didn’t at least mention the numbers the Bulls put up in this game. Quinton Flowers accounted for over 300 yards of offense himself and accounted for five touchdowns. D’Ernest Johnson had 6 receptions for 95 yards and touchdown while Rodney Adams set a new single season record for receptions. On defense, the unit, despite allowing the points and yards to South Carolina, had 10 tackles for loss (5 sacks), 2 interceptions, and forced 4 fumbles. But let’s move past these numbers and really get into what this win really means.
First, the 11th win. This program has had some memorable teams over the past 20 years. 2007 comes to mind right away and even last year with the explosive offense, each group was fun and brought plenty of wins, but no group ever hit the 11th win mark until this season. They did it with offense, key defensive stops, and through pure hard work. Like the title of the blog says, history was made with this victory.
Next, we have to acknowledge the work the coaching staff has done since Willie Taggart left for Oregon. Yes, Charlie Strong is the next coach, but interim coach TJ Weist did one hell of a job coaching and preparing not only the team but the rest of the staff as well. It can’t be easy knowing that you are not the head coach moving forward, yet have to do the work of one for one game and have to do it well.
Weist did a great job, but he had help. Coach King, Coach Reaves, Coach Woodie, and company all did a great job throughout this last month and during the season. They were tested and had to overcome a lot of obstacles but saw it through. Again, just like Weist, it can’t be easy knowing a new coach is coming in and could replace every them all. That did not stop them and they were able to put together a great bowl victory to cap off a great year.
Next, we have to acknowledge the hard work and determination the players have shown all season and through this last month. This group of young men had a great year, had to face adversity and never let it get to them. In fact, it galvanized them instead, making them hungry for that elusive bowl win. Coach Taggart recruited a group of outstanding young men to this program that were determined to see the job done and they made it happen. We saw their character, their fight, and their determination to never give up despite the odds and they got the 11th win. No one gave up.
For the fans, it was the exclamation point on a great season. We got back to the postseason last year but the team came up short. The team was hungry and were so were the fans after the 2015 season. We went through an epic season and came into this game hoping and praying for a new trophy to be added to the collection and now, its ours. I say “we” and “ours” like we are a big family because we are. We are the USF family. We eat, breathe, and drink USF, its in our DNA so we live and die with the team. Today and this season, we lived and it was glorious.
So now the long off-season begins. Coaching changes are coming, some players will leave, some will return, and then the recruiting season will come. We will focus our attention on all of these areas as they come and go, but let’s stop and rejoice for a little bit. We just saw our team, our players, and our program make history and cap off arguably the best season in team history. Go Bulls!
by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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