Progress. I think that’s all most USF fans are looking for this season. Show the fans some improvement throughout the season, and they will be happy. USF showed signs of improvement in all three phases, but there was still plenty that needs fixing.
- The defense played good enough to win.
They were aggressive and challenged Cincinnati to beat them through the air. Bad Desmond Ridder showed up and the Bearcats were unable to find any consistency in the passing game. USF was a major cause of the inconsistency with their aggressive game plan. This is what I had hoped to see from Coordinator Glenn Spencer when he finally got the chance to face a conventional college offense. A great performance, especially factoring in the fact that the defense was missing eight players this week.
2. One bright spot on the offense was the inclusion of Johnny Ford in the passing game.
Ford has been your most explosive player on offense this season. He is a great route runner and must be respected in the passing game. There’s a reason he started in the slot last season. He’s an extremely tough cover for safeties and linebackers. Hopefully, he can continue to get touches in a variety of ways as the season continues.
3. Special teams is still a work in progress.
No punting fiascos this week and they did produce a 70 yard kickoff return. However, on the drive after the long return, the Bulls missed a 45-yard field goal. They also allowed a kickoff return for a touchdown after the USF offense finally got some points on the board. To be fair, the latter two units haven’t gotten nearly the amount of game reps as the former two. I would expect the special teams to continue to improve as the year goes on.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the fourth and long late in the third quarter. Many wanted the Bulls to kick the field goal and simply get points on the board for the first time in weeks.
However, down 21, kicking a field goal would have been an admission of defeat. Coach Scott decided to go for it and the offense dialed up a creative reverse throwback to the quarterback to convert. The Bulls scored two plays later. While that touchdown didn’t lead to any more points, it may lead to victories down the road.
Jeff Scott sent a message to his team that there are no moral victories and he plays to win. It may not mean anything this season, but that’s a message that could resonate for years to come.