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It's The Offense, Stupid. Can Mike White Fix It? Could Anyone?

Borrowing a quote from Bill Clinton's Campaign War Room, USF hasn't ever scored an offensive touchdown in AAC Conference play. That's... an issue.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

One of the best ways to see how a football team is using the drive chart. When looked at with a decent sample size, it's a great tool to measure the power of an offense or defense. On any one specific drive you can have a dumb penalty or drop a wide open pass or make some other mistake that stops your progress, but when taken as a collective it shows where you took the ball, where you finished with the ball, and the results of your attempt to score.

There are only seven possible outcomes: fumble lost, interception, turnover on downs, end of half/game, punt, field goal, touchdown. Better websites than mine have formulas for factoring out things like kneel downs at the end of the half and such, but I just did that manually. You can judge a team pretty quickly about what they've done offensively (and defensively too) right here. So let's do so:

You can see the drive charts for the entire history of USF in AAC games here:

Vs. Cincinnati, Page 7
Vs. UConn, Page 5
Vs. Louisville, Page 7

The USF Offense in American Athletic Conference Play:

Total drives started by USF when offense got on the field: 32
Total drives without offense: 4 (three fumble recoveries [two for TD's, one on last play of game], one blocked FG).

Fumble lost: 2
Interception: 2
Turnover on downs: 0
End of half/game: 1
Punt: 21
Field goal: 7
Touchdown: 0

Average yard line offensive drive started: 24.48
Average yards gained per offensive drive: 18.24

Average yard line conceding the ball: 42.72 (home end of field)

That is historically awful. Like "Teddy Roosevelt needs to step in and require the players to wear helmets and legalize the forward pass" levels of horrendous. This might be the worst offensive team in any sport USF has ever had... and we had that basketball team two years ago that couldn't score at the Bunny Ranch wrapped in $100's. (note: but boy could they play defense and wow did we love them).

So here's my question: Are we throwing Mike White into an untenable situation at quarterback where he has no chance of success, or is the lack of a competent quarterback the problem in the first place?

Football is such a team sport isolating which piece of the puzzle is the issue is basically impossible via statistics, and still only partially discernible using film. You can see teams are loading up the box against USF and daring them to throw the football, but are the receivers blameless here? Are they unable to separate to give passers targets to work with, especially in early progressions? Losing Sterling Griffin and D'Vario Montgomery really hurts here.

I'm not saying Steven Bench and Bobby Eveld are in any way good quarterbacks; I have two eyes and some sense of how football is played. They're never going to be all-conference players, but are they the only thing at fault here? I mean we are talking totally epic levels of FAIL here on offense. It can't just be the quarterback, right?

I think the best we can ask of Mike White is... um, maybe an offensive touchdown? Driving the ball from the USF side of the 50 yard line into the end zone via a combination of running plays and passing plays, better known as a touchdown drive, is probably a good start here. But even if he fails to reinvigorate the offense, I think the stats show a pretty good argument can be made that it's not his fault alone.

The paradox here is if White does spark the Bulls, why wasn't he playing earlier? And if White doesn't get the offense going... why are we burning his redshirt this late in a lost season? These are both fair questions, and that's before we get into Matt Floyd being named starter and captain and not having played a down since McNeese State.

I get benching Eveld after a two-game "winning" streak would be difficult, and I also understand seeing what you have in White is important for the future. But the two wins were the result of turnovers, a fair amount of luck, and a ton of dropped passes by UConn. The coaching staff should know this, and not be afraid to pull the trigger on a change if necessary. But if Bench wasn't the best alternative when Eveld went down, why did he play ahead of White in the first place against Louisville? If White gives USF the best chance to win, shouldn't he have come in against UL when Eveld was injured?

I'd ask these questions myself, but I still don't have credentials (and that's a blog post for another time).