Oh look, another excuse for me to write about football and the storied history of the USF Bulls, how perfect.
In this series, I will be breaking down the top five individual performances by position group in USF’s history. These performances take into account the context of the game, whether the Bulls won or lost, and of course, the statistics that these players put up during the game.
To start off, we will look at the top five Quarterback performances in the 21 years that USF has been playing.
Literally any game that Q played in could be in consideration.
B.J Daniels vs Nevada in 2011 (22-40, 363 yards, 3 TDs, 0 int)
Matt Grothe vs Syracuse 2006 (25-35, 364 yards, 2 TD, 1 int)
#5 B.J. Daniels vs Cincinnati 2011 (31-48, 409 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT)
USF came into the game 4-2 against a strong Cincinnati Bearcat squad, who came into this game at 5-1.
The game was high flying, with over 1,000 yards accounted for by both teams, with B.J. leading the team with 463 yards by himself. He completed 31 passes for 409 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He tacked on another 54 yards on the ground to complete this one man effort.
Unfortunately, USF blew a 4th quarter lead to lose this game 37-34 to the eventual Big East Co-Champion.
#4 Quinton Flowers vs Texas Tech 2017 (17-34, 311 yards, 4 TDs, 0 int)
In Q’s last-ever game suiting up for USF, he put on an absolute show against one of Charlie Strong’s rivals at Texas.
Our “glorified running back” led the Bulls to a 9-2 record going into this game against a middling Texas Tech program who reached bowl eligibility the last week of the season.
That didn’t stop the talking from the Texas Tech faithful who claimed that Q was more of a running back than a quarterback.
Our “running back” went on to throw for 311 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions and added on an extra 106 yards and a score on the ground to defeat the Red Raiders 37-34.
Oh, and he also threw two of the most beautiful touchdown passes I've ever seen to take the lead twice in the fourth quarter.
#3 Marquel Blackwell vs Pitt 2001 (37-65, 343 yards, 4 TDs, 1 int)
A name not everyone will remember (if you weren’t following USF in the early 2000s) had one of the best games in the early days of USF football. Only five years old, and in the first season of Division I-A, USF beat a historically strong Big East opponent.
Playing in Pittsburgh after losing the week prior on a last second field goal, Blackwell and the Bulls regrouped and played fast against an opponent that most thought would crush USF.
Instead, USF did the crushing, lead behind Blackwell who completed 37 passes for 343 yards, four touchdowns and one interception, Marquel Blackwell was named National Player of the Week, becoming the first Bull to win this honor.
USF won 35-26 which created a domino effect for USF beating big name opponents, we wrote about it back in 2011 about how important this win was for USF and it still holds true to this day, and we have Blackwell to thank for that.
#2 Quinton Flowers vs Memphis 2016 (24-29, 263 yards, 2 TDs, 0 int)
In 2016, USF was in pursuit of it’s first ever conference championship.
After losing to Temple in Philadelphia, the Bulls bounced back to defeat a ranked Navy team to stay in contention, but needed to win out against high powered offenses Memphis, SMU, and UCF to even have a shot.
On a cold night against a hot offense, Quinton Flowers cemented himself as one of the best dual-threat QB’s in college football. Q completed 24 of 29 passes for 263 yards and two touchdowns, for those who are good at math, that’s a 97.7 QBR out of 100.
Continuing his domination, he rushed 20 times for 210 yards and another three touchdowns for a five touchdown performance for the ages.
He dazzled inside the Liberty Bowl and produced plays out of nothing, and led the Bulls to a 49-42 win.
#1 Quinton Flowers vs C. 2017 (24-45, 503 yards, 4 TDs, 1 int)
I don’t think anyone had any doubt in their mind what the best QB performance in program history was.
In arguably the biggest game in USF’s history, against rival C., Q put on a performance that nearly stole the show from C. Plenty of highlight reels have showcased Q’s performance, throwing for 503 yards (school record) and four touchdowns, adding on another 102 yards and a rushing touchdown for 605 total yards by himself (school record), and five total touchdowns (tied school record which he did seven times).
I could highlight any play from this game from Q and it would be stellar, but the most important occurred midway through the second quarter.
USF is down 21-13 with the ball, when Shaquem Griffin got free on an edge rush and nearly blind sided Flowers. If Q goes down there this game doesn’t get any closer, all the momentum rides with the Knights, instead Q breaks free, and finds McCants for a huge first down throw to continue the drive.
It’s a shame what happened at the end of the game, but the result doesn’t and shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion of the best QB Performance by a USF Bull.
Moving on to Wide Receivers, the words “Great” and “USF Wide Receiver” don't typically go hand-in-hand. However, due to some incredible QB performances, we have also accumulated quite a few great performances by USF receivers. Some familiar names, and some not so familiar.
Elgin Hicks vs East Carolina 2003 (three receptions for 65 yards and three touchdowns) Can’t get anymore perfect than that, the schools tied leader in touchdown receptions in a game, scored every time he touched the ball.
#5 Rodney Adams vs UConn 2015 (5 catches, 118 yards, 3 TDs)
The evolution of the Gulf Coast offense came into fruition this game (shameless plug, if you haven’t read my breakdown on the GCO, it’s pretty good).
Adams caught five passes for 118 yards and three touchdowns (tied school record), he was able to effectively use his speed to get behind UConn defenders.
A combination of speed and play calling were able to lift the Bulls past the Huskies, with Rodney catching touchdown passes via a curl route and being faster than everyone, a single route post in a run formation, and catching a TD from a running back.
#4 Marquez Valdez-Scantling vs Houston 2017 (10 catches, 186 yards, 0 TDs)
Before you jump to conclusions, allow me to explain, this is about individual performances, and the numbers MVS was able to put up on a rainy night in Tampa were astounding.
Despite a sound Cougar secondary, MVS was able to make tough catches and do what he could to help the Bulls, He was targeted 16 times, dropped two passes (both contested).
This was not the prettiest game the Bulls have ever played, it might have been the ugliest way to lose a game, but MVS was a lone bright in an other wise dark game. #4thand24nightmares
#3 Andre Davis vs Nevada 2012 (12 catches, 191 yards, 2 TDs)
Andre Davis was too good for us when we had him. Consistent hands and could high point the ball like no other.
His first big game as a Bull came in 2012 as USF headed to Reno to take on the Wolfpack of Nevada. Davis in his sophomore season caught 12 passes (school record) for a then school record 191 yards and two touchdowns, as USF was able to squeak by Nevada for a 32-31 victory.
He showcased his athleticism in many different ways, catching difficult balls and being elusive enough to keep the Wolfpack worried all game long. (His highlights are also fun to watch)
#2 Andre Davis vs Tulsa 2014 (6 catches, 154 yards, 3 TDs)
In the dismal 2013-2014 seasons, a lone bright spot in Andre Davis continued to shine for the Bulls, this time in a different way than the previous #3 ranking for Davis.
USF and Tulsa were both struggling in the 2014 season as the Bulls entered the game at 2-4 and Tulsa at 1-6.
At halftime however, it looked like Tulsa was going to roll through USF with a 27-7 lead and all of the momentum possible.
A resurgent Bulls team led by Willie Taggart came out of the locker room, and Dre refused to let his team go down without a fight. He caught six passes for 154 yards and three touchdowns (tied school record).
He caught three passes in the second half, all scores, and cut down the deficit from 20 points to USF winning the game by eight.
His last catch was the biggest, being an 85-yard touchdown pass from Mike White to claim the lead for the Bulls.
#1 Tyre McCants vs UCF 2017 (9 catches, 227 yards, 1 TD)
A name everyone should be excited for in the 2018 season claims the best performance by a WR in USF history.
Making crucial catches all game long to get the Bulls out of sticky situations, Tyre had nine catches for 227 yards (school record) and one touchdown. Boy was that one touchdown was amazing, with McCants dragging a defender 20 yards to open scoring in a wild and entertaining game.
In case that wasn’t clear, McCants is a 225 pound slot receiver, who dragged a fully grown inside linebacker who weighs 240 pounds, 20 whole entire yards. I want that gif on my tombstone when I die (hopefully we can put gifs on tombstones by then).
The rest of his 8 catches were spectacular as well, averaging 25 yards a catch and helping Flowers stay in the game. My heart was racing from the first score and the last score of the game thanks to McCants.
On the next edition of Top 5 individual performances in USF history, we will take a look at the top 5 running back performances, and a surprising top 5 offensive line performances. It’s going to be a doozy.