FSU gives USF a reality check in football

by Gary Shelton on September 25, 2016 · 1 comment

in College Sports in Florida, general, NFL, USF

D'Ernest Johnson scores on a 3 yard rush in the fourth quarter, and finished with 3 touchdowns/ANDREW J. KRAMER

D'Ernest Johnson scores on a 3 yard rush in the fourth quarter, and finished with 3 touchdowns/ANDREW J. KRAMER

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Promising program, USF.

It has possibilities. It has a pretty good team. It can make the numbers climb on the scoreboard. On a late September afternoon, why, they're capable of putting up 35 against a good FSU team.

Excellent program, FSU.

It has realities. It has a terrific team. It can run away from most opponents. On a late September afternoon, why, they're capable of hanging 55 against a stubborn USF team.

And there's the difference. A pretty good team against a very good one. An

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Dalvin Cook RAN FOR 267 yards in big win over USF./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Dalvin Cook RAN FOR 267 yards in big win over USF./ANDREW J. KRAMER

ascending program and one that has arrived. A high-shelf program against a top-shelf one.

This was reality. This is what happens when a team that recruits against anyone in the nation plays a team that tries to recruit with others in the state. USF has nothing to hang its head over. But, no, it isn't FSU's equal.

Oh, bully for the Bulls for walking away disappointed. USF coach Willie Taggart said earlier in the week that the team's best would be good enough, but he left Saturday's game convinced his team didn't play its best. A thousand times, you'd prefer that to someone who points out the disparities in the size of the programs. You want a competitor who had least had the common grace to be miffed over the final score.

“This wasn't about four stars vs. three stars,” Taggart said, referring to the recruiting rankings. “This was about sloppy tackling.”

Quinton Flowers ran for 159 yards against FSU.ANDREW J. KRAMER

Quinton Flowers ran for 159 yards against FSU.ANDREW J. KRAMER

In reality, it's about both. If there is a five-star running back in Orlando, well, FSU can get in the living room. USF can't. That's a big difference to overcome. It isn't fair, but it's the way of college football. The big programs have all the advantages.

Look, FSU has won three national titles. USF has never finished a season in the top 25.

Oh, Saturday's game started like a pinball machine. USF scored on its first play: an 84-yard pass from Quinton Flowers to Rodney Adams. Then FSU scored on its first play, a 75-yard run by Dalvin Cook. Twenty nine seconds were gone. Each team then scored on quick drives. It was 14-14, and five minutes hadn't passed.

But FSU would score 38 unanswered points, most of them behind Cook, who ran for 267 yards. Last year against USF, he ran for 266. Cook may return to college next year just to have another shot at the Bulls.

Taggart was right about this: The Bulls didn't tackle well. They played chase, and it looked as if the Seminoles could score whenever they wanted. They gained 647 yards, 478 of it on the ground. USF scored three times in the last 18 ½ minutes to make it closer.

Frankly, it drives USF crazy — and it should — to be thought of as something less than Florida State or Florida or Miami. Maybe someday, it won't be so. Small programs have surpassed bigger ones in a lot of states.

For now, however, USF is, say, a bishop of the chess board. It can do a lot of things, and it can get to a lot of places. But it isn't a queen.

Hey, it isn't bad to score five touchdowns against FSU. It isn't bad to rush for 290 yards.

But it isn't winning.

That ticks off Taggart. Right now, that anger is the best thing the Bulls have going for them.

Marlon Mack ran for 48 yards before being poked in the eye./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Marlon Mack ran for 48 yards before being poked in the eye./ANDREW J. KRAMER

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Larry Beller September 25, 2016 at 8:47 am

So I’m at the game watching mostly on the big new scoreboards because our seats are low & it’s hard to see much of anything. Very nice touch. First, play USF scores on a bomb. Great. Then FSU scores on their first play. Then the teams trade scores and at this point we are thinking this may become the highest scoring college football game in history? After that it becomes a beat down with FSU showing their dominance. But USF doesn’t quit and puts up a fight so give them that. I wish USF could play more games against bigger name teams to find out where they really are in the college football landscape. But now it’s back to smallville for them in the AAC conference. Final thought, it’s too darn hot to play football games at noon here in Sept. It was brutal sitting in the sun in that stadium. I can’t blame Buc fans for not wanting to attend early afternoon games this time of year.

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