Not the outcome we wanted after a big game against Alabama at home, but it was a special one to witness. Even though everyone counted us out, this team had the belief that it was our game to win. We performed with a lot of grit, tenacity, and passion; our guys went out on the field every play to make a statement. But in the words of Coach Golesh after the game, “Moral victories are for losers”. What sounds like a harsh statement, is the truth, and coming from a coach that beat Alabama last season at Tennessee, Golesh’s plan is to win no matter who is on the opposing sideline.
As usual, I want to start this off with the positives; and again, this defense was special. Alabama could never find a spark because this defense would NOT let up. The Crimson Tide’s offense couldn’t pass or get anything going on the ground for a better part of the game.
New starting quarterback, Tyler Buchner, only threw for 34 yards until he was benched in the second half, and no receiver totaled more than 45 yards the entire game.
We witnessed one of the greatest defensive performances in all of USF history by defensive back, Daquan Evans. “Dae Dae” (@DaeDae_800) finished yesterday’s game with 8 tackles, 3 sacks, and a pass break up, and every single stat listed, came at the right time. He flew around the field all night and Alabama had no answer for him on the blitz. He now leads the nation in tackles for loss with a total of 8 through just three games.
His performance was complemented with other outstanding showings by Jhalyn Shuler (LB) who had 11 total tackles, Jaelen Stokes (DB) who showed up big again with a crucial sack in the second half, DJ Harris (DE), who picked up a fumble recovery on special teams, and Jason Vaughn (DE) who came through with a late-game sack as well.
Because of the defense’s outstanding play, the Crimson Tide didn’t score a touchdown until late in the third quarter following a big pass play from backup quarterback, Ty Simpson.
In totality, we should be extremely proud of this unit. After seeing a defense that ranked at the bottom of all FBS schools just a season ago, we have made huge strides with Coach Todd Orlando’s scheme. The beauty of it is seeing guys who have been here making an impact in a defense that maximizes their ability and highlights their strengths.
There were also positives on the offensive side of the ball as well. To start this game off for the Bulls, running back, Nay’Quan Wright, had a carry early in this game that SET THE TONE. On a second down carry, Wright bursts up the middle and delivers an absolutely menacing truck to Alabama defensive back, Caleb Downs. This was the play that let everyone in the stadium and across the nation know that the Bulls were here to handle business.
As we saw in the first two games, Golesh’s offense, ranked as the 14th best rushing offense in the nation, did well on the ground in this outing as well. Quarterback Byrum Brown led the way with 92 rushing yards, followed by Nay’Quan Wright with 62 yards on 15 carries. Golesh’s strategy wasn’t the most flashy, but it was effective. Unlike the high tempo, fast-paced offense we saw in the first two weeks, the game plan against the Crimson Tide was slow and steady, keeping the clock rolling and gaining a slight advantage in the time of possession category (30 minutes, 26 seconds).
This strategy kept us in the driver’s seat for the majority game, but even with our respectable running game, we struggled through the air and just couldn’t quite connect on the big shots we wanted to take. With that being said, it does take time to establish chemistry with all your weapons as a quarterback, and although it doesn’t show up on the stat sheet, we can see Byrum Brown, getting more comfortable game by game, and the hope is to eventually get the passing game in a groove.
Ultimately, this game was an experience for all Bulls fans, students, players and coaches, and we hope to continue to improve from here. I can speak for all Bulls when I say we are extremely proud of this team for the fight they put up on Saturday. But, the season doesn’t end there; in fact, this game could be the turning point for the future of this program.
\\After Saturday night, the entire brand of USF football opened eyes and turned heads, and now we have the opportunity to take that momentum into every game for the rest of the year. Now we know what we are capable of; the vision is nothing short of success, and we can make that happen right now.
We won’t take this loss against Alabama as a moral victory, but we can take that hype into next week and dominate the way we know we can. This will be the first conference game of the season against a Rice team that has a few play-makers to be aware of. But truthfully, no matter who our guys line up against, I expect to see a confident, commanding, and dangerous squad that has one common goal…….to win.
—— #BeWhoYouSayYouAre ——