Wisconsin's power offense just wore USF down on defense. But that's made a lot easier when that defense is on the field too much because of an offense that can't seem to capitalize on great opportunities.
The Bulls had so many chances to pull off one of the great road upsets at an institution with a long history of them. The defense was spectacular in the first half, holding Heisman candidate Melvin Gordon to just 50 yards on 17 carries. They were flying to the ball, hitting ruthlessly hard, and getting fantastic penetration at the line of scrimmage. You couldn't ask more of a defense facing the #1 rushing offense in America.
But so many plays were there for the taking for the USF offense, and they simply failed to take advantage.
With 13 minutes left in the first half of a 3-3 game, Deonte Welch got hit with a 20-yard strike over the middle on 3rd and 17. Great protection, great play call. It goes right through his hands and becomes a Derek Landisch interception. 10 guys on the USF offense did their job. So did the coaching staff. But one guy didn't, and that changes the game on a dime.
On the ensuing Badger drive, the defense came up huge again. Wisconsin took over on the USF 35, and ended up punting from the USF 39 after two tackles for loss, including a sack of Tanner McEvoy by Reshard Cliett. It was a fantastic series, and a joy to watch the Bulls concede and eventually take back field goal range.
But asking Chuck Bresnahan's unit to do this over and over against a loaded Wisconsin running game just isn't realistic. The defense needs the offense to have more than just eight first downs all day. They need a USF team committed to huddling and running the ball to have more than 19:09 of possession. They need more than 38 total plays out of their offense.
On the first play of the 4th quarter with the Bulls trailing 20-10, fullback Kennard Swanson read his keys perfectly and rolled to the flat. He gets hit with a perfect pass in stride, and rumbles almost untouched down the left sideline. But the ball stays in his right arm instead of being switched to the one closer to the boundary, and he fumbles trying to pick up a couple extra feet after heading 52 yards down the field. Great protection, great play call... terrible execution at the end.
Rodney Adams was facing press man coverage as the wide receiver closest to the left sideline, released outside, and got hit right in the gloves with a perfect pass after beating his man. There was no safety high, and nothing between #87 and the end zone but air and opportunity. A perfectly thrown ball literally went right through his hands. Was it pass interference? Yes, though it wasn't called. But it's still a play he can make, and one USF is going to need if this season is going to show improvement.
The plays are out there and so close to being made, but the execution is just lacking. Last week Adams took an easy pass right off his shoulder for a Pick 6. Welch has dropped several so many this season I can't even remember them all. And that's before the issues with Mike McFarland & Sean Price.
This defense deserves better. The offense has to find a way to stay on the field for extended stretches, and score enough so that the defense doesn't have to throw a virtual shutout every week to have a chance to win.
Mike White isn't Jameis Winston, Brett Hundley, or an NFL prospect. But he played well enough today to win, and so did the defense. This loss is on the skill position players plain and simple.
USF is close, and they showed improvement today, but simply aren't there yet. Getting Andre Davis back should help tremendously.
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Complaining about officiating is the practice of losers. We avoid ref hating as much as possible on this blog because most of the time it doesn't affect the play on the field that directly. But today the crew led by referee John McDaid, the same official that did this and this, screwed the Bulls yet again. The late hit call on Nate Godwin was an absolute joke. The lack of holding calls on Wisconsin was just outrageous. I saw Bulls clearly being held in the open field all day, and I was what felt like miles away from the action on top of Camp Randall. I wasn't the only one.
If Wisconsin ever got called for holding, they'd literally never run a play.— Jeremy Sharpe (@sharpejw) September 27, 2014
After the game Willie Taggart said "you can't beat a Top 25 team with 11 penalties and two turnovers." We've talked about the turnovers already, but some of the penalties were simply garbage, and the ones that weren't called probably had an even larger effect on the game. I'll watch the tape in full later, but I feel quite comfortable saying USF got the short end of the stick from McDaid yet again.
It's become a Joey Crawford/San Antonio Spurs situation with McDaid and USF. That shouldn't ever happen in college football, and McDaid shouldn't work a USF game the rest of this season if ever again. Whether it's coincidence or some kind of grudge or bias (remember the 15-yard penalty he flagged Taggart with last season in the Houston game while he was arguing to overturn a call that clearly screwed USF), it's enough of an issue where when I saw who was officiating the game I felt the Bulls were in trouble.
McDaid needs to stay away from USF Football for quite a while if only because his presence would bring unnecessary attention to where it shouldn't ever be: on the guys in the stripes. This kind of lack of judgement is part of the problem.
John McDaid is such a jackass that he threw a flag on Clemson when they dumped Gatorade on Dabo. He is THE ABSOLUTE WORST.— Jamie (@chuckycrater) September 27, 2014
Get him away from this team immediately.