Well, that wasn’t fun. In front of a huge audience on ABC at high noon, South Florida got torched 55-35 by a mad as hell #13 Florida State squad looking to wipe off the stench of the Louisville game the week prior.
USF landed the first punch right out the gate with an 84-yard dime from Quinton Flowers to Rodney Adams on the first play from scrimmage to take an early 7-0 lead.
And then Dalvin Cook remembered that he’s Dalvin Cook, the FSU offense got rolling, and the Bulls didn’t have any answers as the deficit continued to grow as the first half progressed. As usual, we’ll look at the stat sheet and try to assess the damage from this one.
The Bullshark defense got shredded by the FSU ground game, giving up program records in total yards (647) and rushing yards (478), including 7.6 yards per carry.
That’s it. I could end this takeaway right there and call it a day. A combination of being dominated at the line of scrimmage and poor tackling led to this abysmal performance. The USF defense gave up ten yards per play in the first half. TEN!
A huge factor behind this meltdown was the Bulls getting Dalvin Cook’d for the second year in a row. Right after the aforementioned Rodney Adams touchdown to open the game, the dynamic Cook immediately fired back with a 75-yard touchdown run of his own. He was only getting started.
The preseason Heisman contender finished with a career day at Raymond James, racking up 329 all-purpose yards, including 267 yards rushing (exactly one more than last season) and 9.5 yards per carry. If you’re Raymond Woodie, burn this tape immediately.
Noles Money in the Red Zone
To supplement their dominant rushing performance, the Seminoles were able to convert seven out of eight trips to the red zone into scores, almost guaranteeing points whenever they reached inside the twenty. (The only red zone trip that didn’t result in points was because they took a knee at the end of the game.)
After Cook’s opening touchdown, FSU’s next five scores came on the tail end of methodical drives that went deep into USF territory, including a pair of goal-line touchdowns by fullback Freddie Stevenson.
Following their come-from-behind victory over Syracuse last week, Willie Taggart acknowledged that defenses in today’s college football will give up a lot of yards, it’s just a matter of keeping them out of the end zone that indicates success. Fortunes certainly didn’t go the Bulls way in the red zone on Saturday.
Second and Long
After two successful opening drives, Quinton Flowers and the Bulls offense sputtered down the stretch, having their ability to stretch the field crippled by the speed of Florida State defenders.
A telling sign of their woes is the number of second and 7+ yards scenarios they found themselves in. The Bulls had 14 second-and-longs throughout the game, which in turn made it harder to create third-and-short situations where they could easily keep the chains moving.
The inability to create productive yards on the first two plays of a series can derail an offense’s rhythm and force you to press, which is what happened to the Gulf Coast Offense against the Noles.
The sooner Taggart and his guys forget this game, the better. After going up 14-7, the floodgates opened and everything went downhill.
Like FSU coming off their beating at the hands of Lamar Jackson, the Bulls will have the opportunity to put this in-state game in their rearview mirror as they focus towards their first conference game at Cincinnati.