Offense not good enough in South Florida loss

by Gary Shelton on October 2, 2015 · 0 comments

in College Sports in Florida, general, South Florida

Flowers scrambles while looking for an open receiver./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Flowers scrambles while looking for an open receiver./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Friday, 11:38 p.m.

The defense of the South Florida Bulls played well enough to think about an upset Friday night.

The offense?

Not so much.

The Bulls fell to 1-3 on the season, losing a 24-17 decision to the undefeated Memphis Tigers. USF held Memphis to less than half of the 53.7 points per game they had been averaging. It was a good enough effort to get USF

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off to a 10-0 lead against the high-powered offense of the Tigers.

The USF offense, however, could not keep the pressure on

Higgins is unable to bring in the interception./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Higgins is unable to bring in the interception./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Memphis, and it led to the Tigers' comeback.

Consider this: USF threw the ball 10 times in the first three quarters. Ten! Granted, USF is trying to be a team that primarily runs the ball, but that's a little silly.

Consider this: In Memphis' last game, it gave up 620 yards passing to Cincinnati, leading to the suspicion that the Tigers were playing with four Elvis impersonators in the secondary. To put it short, Memphis has no idea what to do when the opponents throw the ball. It is the secondary that is the reason the Tigers are 104th in the nation on defense. The Tigers were 89th in the country in points allowed.

As for the Bulls, they tried to run off-tackle.

Memphis has been much, much better when teams try to run this year. The Tigers are 34th in the country. Which means, in short, that USF's game plan played right into their hands. Again, you would expect USF to lean toward running the ball – that's what they do – but USF threw four times in the first quarter, three in the second and three in the third as the Tigers took over the game.

“In hindsight, I'd like to do a lot more, especially from a play-calling standpoint in the third quarter,” said Bulls' head coach Willie Taggart. “We probably could have loosened the defense up a little bit to help us run the ball a little more.”

In the final quarter, Taggart finally decided to throw the ball a bit. Quarterback Quinton Flowers threw 16 times, completing 10 for 104 yards and a touchdown. Maybe if the Bulls had tried it a bit earlier, it would have helped.

In the fourth period, for instance, USF had a third-and-one at the Memphis 44. It tried to run the ball. Nothing. It tried again. Nothing.

It all makes Taggart wish he had thrown more.

“I would have,” Taggart said. “There are some things I would take back and wish could have done better. I told our team to put that one on me. I could have done some things better too help them in that game. That's hindsight . We'll get better.”

Is it too much to ask if a passing game is part of that plan?

Look, this isn't on Flowers. It's on the blueprint. A Florida team is silly to throw the ball 10 times in the first three quarters on a perfect night against a weak secondary. Furthermore, a struggling team is silly to declare itself to be a running team or a passing team. It's a losing team.

The Bulls, now 1-3, travel to Syracuse next week.

Taggart exits the field after the Bulls are defeated 24-17./ANDREW J. KRAMER

Taggart exits the field after the Bulls are defeated 24-17./ANDREW J. KRAMER

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