South Florida Bulls head coach Charlie Strong addressed the media this morning inside the Lee Roy Selmon Athletics Center to discuss what went wrong at Houston and what the Bulls have to fix in order to beat Tulane on Saturday. Let’s dig in.
USF jumped out to a 34-7 lead midway through the third quarter last season before the Green Wave scored three consecutive touchdowns to get within a touchdown with under three minutes to play, but a 30-yard run by former Bull Darius Tice iced the game.
Tulane made a quarterback change prior to last week’s win over Tulsa, going from Jonathan Banks to Justin McMillan. Strong said the Bulls would expect more passing from Tulane after the QB change. McMillan completed 10-of-19 passes for 92 yards against Tulsa.
Strong: I probably talked up how big the (Houston game) is too much. You can’t do that with a young team— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) October 29, 2018
Does this go above or behind “the jerseys are the reason we played poorly” as one of the more questionable explanations from Strong this year? Just a baffling statement all around.
Strong: We always talk about getting a team on third down.— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) October 29, 2018
You can’t give up chunk yards on third down like we did
The Cougars were 13-18 on third down on Saturday and also converted two fourth downs. Houston didn’t have a third down distance to go shorter than four yards until the waning moments of the third quarter.
Here are the yards to gain they had to convert until that third-and-one: 10, 8, 9, 4, 6, 8, 9, 6, 4, 7, 7, 10.
King finished the day 9-of-10 for 175 yards and a TD on third downs.
The USF secondary was burnt to a crisp against the Cougars. They allowed 12 plays of 15-or-more yards through the air, including completions of 18-yards, 17-yards, 52-yards (TD), and 45-yards on third down.
“I just told him there’s no reason for that to ever happen. And that’s not gonna happen in this program. So, it will be handled. The thing about it is, once he calmed down, and he’s an unbelievable kid and he understands what he did and he knows who’s at fault”— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) October 29, 2018
Senior linebacker Khalid McGee shoved DB coach Blue Adams late in the first half after another deep pass play resulted in a touchdown for the Cougars. It’s unknown what set off the Miami native, but he apologized for it on Sunday calling it “out of character for himself and the program”.
Strong: TE Mitchell Wilcox is a warrior and battled through the injury. Should be ready.— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) October 29, 2018
WR Tyre McCants is a little banged up but should be ok to go.
WR Randall St. Felix should be good to go.
LB Nico Sawtelle is “day-to-day”
Wide receivers Zion Roland, Jernard Phillips, and Deangelo Antoine got a lot of run on Saturday after Tyre McCants went out with an injury. WR Randall St. Felix was injured during the UConn game and the team hoped he’d be able to go, but did not make the trip to Houston.
I don’t anticipate linebacker Nico Sawtelle’s injury to be resolved this week and he may be forced to sit another game. Strong said he doesn’t want this to become a situation where Sawtelle misses three months because he rushed back.
Salute to Service
Saturday is USF’s annual Salute to Service game and they will wear helmet decals. The coin toss will be conducted by U.S. Navy Lieutenant Dennis Kelly (Retired), the father of Vice President of Athletics Michael Kelly. The elder Kelly served during the Vietnam War.