From a potential top-25 upset against the Gators in Gainesville that captured the attention of the entire college football landscape a week ago, to a team I just watched get listlessly blown-out by 38-points in Louisville, Kentucky…
‘What happened’ are the only two words that I can muster as I sit here shell shocked trying to digest what I just witnessed live from the press box here at Cardinal Stadium.
Was last week a fluke?
How can USF play the No. 18 Florida Gators down to the wire at the Swamp in front of 88K+, then completely no show the very next week?
Are we still finding our way to become a competitive program every single week?
It’s Jeff Scott’s third year, shouldn’t there be consistency?
What is the solution for the Bulls?
I never like to point the finger. It’s not my style and I firmly believe that the success of a football program, no matter the level, is multi-faceted.
It’s not just the coaching.
It’s not just the level of talent on the field.
It’s not just how nice your facilities are, or who has the better nightlife scene around campus.
Nonetheless, it would be naive notion at best to exist in a USF mental bubble telling yourself that the next stretch of conference games aren’t critical. How the Bulls handle the upcoming stretch of conference matchups will make it clear where this program truly stands midway through year three of the Jeff Scott era.
As much as Saturday was a letdown for all USF fans (whether you were at the game in Kentucky or watching it across the globe), the season isn’t over yet. It flat out isn’t over. The fight has just begun.
The real question is how will the 2022 Bulls super Seniors be remembered? What will become their legacy?
Round 1 begins. There might not have been voices inside your head, but they’re certainly loud now…
Game Recap against Louisville
After trying to carry over the positive performance wave following the heartbreaking loss to the No. 18 Florida Gators a week ago, the Bulls found themselves trailing the Cardinals early on and were never able to dig themselves out of the hole.
The Cardinals seeing two consecutive quarters of 14 points scored by the Louisville Cardinals with a 28-0 lead in the first half. The USF offense was unable to establish the run against Louisville all game which was a major factor in the passing game not getting in sync to move the ball into scoring position.
As it has been said many times, you run to set up the pass and the Louisville defense did a fantastic job in making the USF offense one-dimensional in getting Gerry Bohanon active with his arm.
The Bulls defense struggled against a Louisville offense that broke off chunk plays against them throughout the game and in crucial 3rd and 4th down scenarios, USF was unable to get off the field and give the ball back to the offense.
Louisville QB Malik Cunningham had his way with the USF defense where he was able to make the right reads consistently and hit his receivers open down the field on busted coverage. Going into the game, everyone in the country was aware of Cunningham’s ability to run the ball, and when push came to shove Malik took advantage of his ability as a dual-threat QB, finding the end zone 3 times against the Bulls.
Cunningham finished with 113 rushing yards on nine carries before being sent to the bench early on in the fourth quarter. The performance notched his third consecutive game with 100+ rushing yards, the 10th of the Senior’s career.
Having several starters and key contributors banged up for the noon road contest did not do this Bulls team any favors with WR Ajou Ajou, CB Daquan Evans, RB Kelley Joiner Jr., WR Jimmy Horn Jr., and LB Brian Norris Jr. out for the game.
Unfortunately, USF saw offensive line staple Donovan Jennings leave the game with a lower leg injury, and per Will Turner of Bulls247, he is expected to miss the rest of the season.
LB Antonio Grier Jr. also left the game with a reported hand injury, but there has been no word on his status for ECU or going forward.
As we push onward from the dismantling that was Louisville, how will the team respond against the Pirates? Bounce back or continue to spiral?
All eyes on are the Bulls on Saturday in Boca Raton for the scheduled kickoff at 2:30 PM at FAU Stadium…
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Florida community as Hurricane Ian moves across our state. Be safe everyone. We will get through this together #FloridaStrong