USF blasted by Wisconsin in worst-ever defeat

by Gary Shelton on August 31, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Charlie Strong was ’embarrassed’ by the loss./STEVEN MUNCIE

Saturday, 3 a.m.

Oh, my goodness. They’re Charlotte, or some other weak sister of college football.

It has happened so quickly, as if an entire football program has fallen off of a cliff. And by the time they landed, they were too ugly to behold. They do not play offense. They do not play defense. They do not even play special teams.

They are the USF Bulls, and they cannot walk upright.

The Bulls suffered the worst loss in the history of their program Friday night, being humiliated by Wisconsin at Raymond James Stadium, 49-0, in a game where the Badgers eased off the gas pedal in the third period and coasted.

Here lately, the Bulls are Georgia State. They’re Central Michigan and Kent State and UConn, all the teams that struggle every Saturday.

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Blake Barnett had a miserable night./STEVEN MUNCIE

Frankly, it was awful defensively, and it was worse offensively. You want to know the final indignity. The Bulls were across midfield for the only time all night when they lined up to go for a fourth-and-six play at the Wisconsin 21. But after drawing a five-yard penalty, coach Charley Strong chose to kick a face-saving field goal because, well, 49-3 sounds better than 49-0.

And Coby Weiss missed the field goal to the left.

Devin Studstill celebrates stopping the quarterback./STEVEN MUNCIE

No, USF couldn’t do anything right.

“It was very, very disappointing,” Strong said. “It was a very embarrassing loss. When you have the crowd we had, a crowd that had to wait for an hour and half, and we go out and play the way we played, there is no reason for that.

“As the head coach, I thought I had them ready to play. I guess I didn’t.”

The most striking disappointment was the offense, which returned nine of 11 starters this year and had, supposedly, found the right coordinator in former Florida coach Kerwin Bell. Well, oops.

Even with a late drive, USF had just  nine first downs.

Starting quarterback Blake Barnett hit 13 of 30 passes for 109 yards with two interceptions.

Running back Jordan Cronkrite ran six times for nine yards.

At the half, the Bulls had minus four yards rushing.

“On all sides of the ball , we just didn’t play well,” Strong said. “I think we crossed

Patrick Macon causes Ferguson to fumble./STEVEN MUNCIE

the midfield line one time.  That’s a really good football team. When you play an opponent like that you can’t  have the penalties, you can’t have turnovers. I think we had nine penalties.  You got to run the ball. You have to be balanced.

“When you don’t establish the run you allow them to tee off on you. It shows you we have a lot of work and a season in front of us. We talked about what we have to do as a team. We’ve got to go get it done. All the talking needs to stop and we need to start showing.”

There were a few telling moments in the game. On a fourth-and-one, the Bulls had to take an injury time out. That gave Wisconsin time to reconsider. It brought its offense back out, and it converted the first. From there, it drove to lead 21-0. Later, Wisconsin seemed to be stopped on the goal line, but Jonathan Taylor twisted and scored.

For most of the night, things went the way of the Badgers, who dominated play with both lines.

Jordan McCloud played well late./STEVEN MUNCIE

Bottom line? Yes, Wisconsin is a talented team. But they were ranked 19th and 17th in the two polls coming in. They weren’t exactly a team for the ages.  Yet, they piled up 433 yards (to 157 for the Bulls).

We didn’t play well tonight, but our offense is there,” Strong said. “We have to be  balanced. No offense is going to be good if you can’t run the ball. You have no chance. The wide receivers had man coverage, and they locked them down. We never got separation from them.”

The Bulls have now lost seven straight games going back to last season. They will attempt to break the losing streak a week from today at Georgia Tech at 2 p.m. at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

If they do not succeed, expect the discontentment to grow further.

Spencer Shrader is tackled on a fake punt for the Bulls./STEVEN MUNCIE

 

 

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