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Box Score Takeaways: USF Football vs. Northern Illinois

Even without Marlon Mack, the Bulls were able to average 9.0 yards per play in the first half and put Northern Illinois away with little resistance.

Northern Illinois v South Florida Photo by Jason Behnken / Getty Images

South Florida was able to use the natural speed and versatility advantage they had over Northern Illinois to thrash the visiting Huskies 48-17 in their week two matchup on Saturday.

Even with star running back Marlon Mack sitting out due to injury, the Bulls offense didn’t skip a beat, with quarterback Quinton Flowers having a career game through the air. Let’s see what the box score tells us about this dominant performance...

Booming Offense

For the Gulf Coast Offense, this performance should serve as a benchmark for what the unit is capable of doing in terms of explosiveness and utilization of different weapons, especially when getting things going early.

Right out the gate, Quinton Flowers was able to move the unit at will, averaging a whopping 9.0 yards per play and scoring on five of seven drives in the first half. The Bulls finished the game with 7.4 ypp on 86 snaps (658 yards total) and left no doubt of the outcome by the end of the third quarter. In comparison, Raymond Woodie’s Bull Shark Defense was able to contain star WR Kenny Golladay and hold the NIU offense to only 4.2 ypp for the night.

The Bulls were also able to flex their much talked about depth at the skill positions, with six different USF players finding the end-zone, a few of them scoring on chunk plays. Eight plays went for 20+ yards, including this beautiful 73-yard touchdown from Flowers to Ryeshene Bronson in first quarter that served as the highlight of the contest.

Red Zone/Third Down Success

Taggart’s offense took six trips to the red zone on Saturday night and came away with six scores. An early positive for the Gulf Coast this season has been capitalizing on scoring opportunities when inside the twenty, having gone a perfect 10/10 in the red zone. It almost goes without saying that as the competition toughens as the season moves forward, every chance to put points on the board is vital.

Another early indicator of success on both sides of the ball has been on third downs. The Bulls were able to convert 11 of 19 third down attempts (58%) while holding NIU to just a 28% conversion rate on defense. If the offense can hover around above 50% as they’ve done in the first two games, they’ll give themselves more opportunities for explosive plays as the defense starts to wear down.

Special Teams... Not Bad!

There rightfully were major concerns over South Florida’s special teams game coming out of last week’s game against Towson, but the unit as a whole delivered a solid performance vs. NIU.

Emilio Nadelman was able to get himself on the board for the first time this season with a pair of 30+ yard field goals in the second quarter. Notably his kickoffs dramatically improved from a lackluster Week 1 with four touchbacks, though it looks like the Bulls were attempting some intentionally short kickoffs vs. Towson.

Punter Jonathan Hernandez had an ever better outing this time around than his debut a week ago, averaging 44.2 yards per punt, including three punts of 50+ yards and two that pinned NIU inside the twenty.

End Game

USF was able to out-speed and run past a less athletic Husky squad with ease this week. We’ll see in the coming weeks if the Bulls can maintain similar levels of efficiency as the degrees of opponent difficulty will be upped with Syracuse, Florida State, and Cincinnati on the horizon.