Here is a football preview for the University of South Florida Bulls after they opened their season last Saturday on the West Coast.
Charlie Strong’s era at USF began with a 16-0 deficit on the road to the San Jose State Spartans. The 19th-ranked Bulls overcome some adversity fast in a 42-22 win over the Spartans.
The driver of the bus is senior quarterback Quinton Flowers. Last year there were still growing pains, but this year Strong leads a team that will not drop their heads on mistakes. Flowers’ accuracy is underrated and he can make defensive players miss tackles when on the move.
Flowers threw two touchdown passes and D’Ernest Johnson had two TD runs in a dominant second quarter that helped South Florida rally from that 16-point deficit. Johnson a 5’10, 208 pound-senior running back, will fit nicely and complement Flowers as the season moves forward.
The game turned when Josh Black stuffed Malike Roberson for a one-yard loss on fourth-and-one from the South Florida 33 in the closing minute of the first quarter with San Jose State leading 16-0. This is what the defense needed as it was the team’s weakness last year.
Senior Deatrick Nichols is a lockdown corner whom the Bulls can count on. The pass defense collectively is better than last season, slightly. The offense will score fast and that may hurt a defense when it is resting off the field and aiming to keep points down on the scoreboard.
It took less than nine minutes for the Bulls to turn that big early deficit into a lead with help from a pair of interceptions off deflected passes by Josh Love.
The Bulls entered the season with superior expectations after tying the 2008 squad for the highest preseason ranking in school history. Their early struggles could be a sign of concern or just the normal process of finding a rhythm under a new coaching staff. One bright spot all game was a stout run defense that held San Jose State to 2.9 yards per carry.
The Bulls will be fun to watch in a conference that flies under the radar. If you win, the playoff committee will find you. They will need help from Power Five schools making mistakes, including a win over non-conference opponent Illinois. They need wins at home against Houston and Tulsa and a road win at UCF to conclude the regular season. All three of those teams played in bowls last season.