The South Florida Bulls (0-2, 0-0) defense showed up to play in a big way this afternoon on a sweltering day at Bobby Dodd Stadium in front of a boisterous crowd of 46,599. The Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (1-1, 1-1) left the door open for the Bulls late in the fourth quarter, but two key turnovers including one at the Yellow Jackets one yard line, led to USF’s 14-10 demise and eighth straight loss dating back to Houston a season ago.
USF’s defense sparked the would-be comeback by limiting the Yellow Jackets to a mere 116 total yards and zero points in the second half. Defensive tackle Kevin Kegler posted a career best 2.5 tackles for loss with Rashawn Yates adding 2.0, Dwayne Boyles and Kirk Livingstone added 1.5 a piece and with contributions by Devin Studstill, Patrick Macon, Tyrik Jones, Andrew Mims, Antonio Grier, Darius Slade, and Greg Reaves the tackles for loss tally hit 13.0 for the game. To boot, the defense forced six punts and entered the game ranked eighth nationally in tackles for loss after collecting 11.0 against Wisconsin last week.
Charlie Strong made a very discouraging statement about the very same defense when asked about the two second half turnovers forced by KJ Sails (interception) and Nick Roberts (forced fumble) in the post game press conference:
“It was good and our defense played very well, but it’s still a team game and we’ve got to play together as a team. We know this, we had a chance to pick that ball up and score when we fell on it. We should have just scooped and scored, and scored a touchdown.”
Meanwhile, Strong made several questionable calls throughout today’s game, such as the decision to punt on 4th and four with just over six minutes left on the clock. Why would you give the ball back to a team, who has the lead mind you, knowing the odds of getting the ball back then creating a scoring opportunity for a chance to win would be greatly diminished? In my opinion that’s bad coaching at it’s core.
There were a few offensive bright spots in the tough second loss of the season for the Bulls, including Redshirt Freshman quarterback Jordan McCloud who just about the led the Bulls to victory after replacing Blake Barnett late in the third quarter. We will have a more detailed post up from Walker Ford tomorrow afternoon so keep your eyes peeled.
We shall see what fate holds for this 2019 USF team in the coming months, but I for one think the defense will keep the Bulls in games and with Jordan McCloud under center they have a much better chance at a fifth consecutive bowl game.
On a high note, I must give props to the Georgia Tech faithful for their wonderful hospitality and gracious nature. It’s always nice when two different fanbases can share a Saturday with kindness and respect while enjoying a game. Kudos Yellow Jackets, I appreciate you.
I also feel inclined to give a shoutout to the amazing USF Fans, alum, and parents/family of players that came out in FULL force, painting the entire south corner with green and gold… the collective roar from the impromptu USF corner was echoed throughout Bobby Dodd Stadium. Your support is amazing and I’m positive the players appreciate it!
As always, Go Bulls!