The Bulls are now the number one team in the American Athletic Conference and they seem to be heating up at the perfect time. After a big win at home a week ago against Rice where we saw some huge performances on both sides of the ball, Coach Golesh and the Bulls made sure to pick up where they left off. It is evident that this team has taken huge strides and continue to improve every single week. It’s refreshing to see because we know the potential our guys have, and finally putting our talent on display for the entire country to see will demand respect.
I want to start with the offense; this side of the ball has seemed to find their groove in the past couple weeks, and we can see the confidence from every man on the field. Byrum Brown had another outstanding game on Saturday, completing 76% of his passes for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns, earning himself another spot on the AAC Weekly Honor Roll.
Brown’s big day was complemented by wide receiver, Sean Atkins, who had 116 yards and 2 touchdowns, making that his second game with over 100 yards in his career. The Brown to Atkins connection should be familiar to Bulls fans, because Atkins’ first 100 yard game was at Tulsa last season in Brown’s first career start. Atkins’ stellar game was a performance that sums up the resilience of this 2023 USF team; after an unfortunate turnover on special teams in the first quarter, Atkins went on to have the game of his career, and Navy had no answer for him.
What was interesting about this offensive performance is that the Bulls only had 97 yards on the ground and still managed to put up over 40 points. USF ranks as the 41st rushing offense in the country and has relied on the run all season, but the passing game has developed substantially these past couple weeks and it was only right to let Byrum Brown get more comfortable with his arm.
On the defensive side, we knew it would be a battle against a run-heavy Navy squad, but the Bulls’ defense didn’t make it easy. This defense created as much chaos as possible, and never truly allowed the Navy offense to get comfortable. Although there were some big plays that were allowed, we never completely broke, and most of those big plays were overlooked by the outstanding turnovers that were created.
There was a big performance by defensive end, Tramel Logan, who had a huge fumble recovery that he took back for a 70 yard touchdown at the beginning of the fourth quarter. This major play put the Bulls in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game and also earned Logan the title as the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Week. We also saw another huge play by linebacker, Jhalyn Shuler, who took a fumbled snap on an extra point all the way in for a score to give the Bulls a 23-20 lead going into the half.
Saturday’s defensive performance stood out because everything didn’t go our way for a majority of the game. Navy was even able to take an early lead in this game, but our guys made the right plays when it mattered, and they never panicked. We got to see transfer linebacker, Andrew Mata’afa get a lot more action, which payed off well with his contribution to a sack, shared with Rashad Cheney. Defensive backs, Jaelen Stokes, who led the team in tackles, and Daquan Evans, who was second in tackles and nearly had an interception, were huge in run support for the Bulls’ defense.
To conclude the recap of our win against Navy, it seems like our guys have truly bought in to Coach Golesh and Coach Orlando’s scheme, and we are seeing them play with no hesitation and as more confidence than we have seen in a while. With everything coming into order at this time, the Bulls stand at 3-2 on the season and 2-0 in the conference. This is the perfect time to get on fire because our schedule is all conference the rest of the way, and after taking two huge wins in a row, there is belief to run away with this. We will be away again next week at UAB, who has been struggling, and the hope is to keep our foot on the gas and keep this streak alive!