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USF Football Sunday Takeaways: Houston Cougars

Still looking for conference win number one

NCAA Football: South Florida at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

You can be upset with the result, but you have to admire the fight. Especially after hearing Jeff Scott’s postgame comments.

USF was one injury/positive covid test away from having to cancel the game. You start the game undermanned at some key positions. Then Houston takes advantage of those missing players and jumps out to a huge lead. Many teams would have packed it in (Looking at you Michigan), but the Bulls kept fighting.

Fighting doesn’t equal winning. Not always. Not in the short term. However, it is a sign of an improving culture. It is a sign good coaching. And in the long term, those will equal winning.

Defense: Paper Thin

In our Houston preview, we said that USF needed to play one of their better games of the year to slow down the Cougars. A tough task became near impossible when the information came out that Antonio Grier would be unavailable along with six other defensive rotation players.

USF doesn’t have the depth to withstand the loss of so many rotation players, especially Grier. The linebacker corps is thin to begin with and when you’re down your best player at the position and a quality backup (Mac Harris) , you are going to struggle. That showed itself in the success of the Houston run game.

The Cougars came into the game averaging 3.44 yards per rush and 125 yards per game. This week, Clayton Tune had 120 yards rushing himself. Houston ran for 319 yards and averaged 8.6 yards a carry. The Bulls had no answer for gap schemes and the QB run. Having your full complement of players would have definitely helped.

Offense: Feed the Freshmen

As dismal as the offensive performance was at times, there were a few bright spots. USF got some quality play from several freshman on the offensive side of the ball. Brian Battie had 15 touches for 115 yards. He is an explosive player and runs hard. Omarion Dollison is a similar player at receiver. Dollison caught his first touchdown of the season yesterday, and his fumble on a kickoff return notwithstanding, has made positive things happen every time he touches the ball this year. I’d love to se expanded roles for both players.

True freshman quarterback Katravis Marsh and receiver Sincere Brown both logged some snaps in the second half as well. I hope we see some more snaps for the young guys in the final two games. Let’s see what they can do and get them some experience. I wouldn’t mind seeing some of the young linemen like Cesar Reyes or Uriah Greene either.

Special Teams: A Step Back

After weeks of improvement, the special teams regressed a little on Saturday.

It’s no coincidence that the issues returned when the Bulls’ unavailable list expanded. When your depth is stretched thin on defense, the same will often happen to your special teams. Those missing defensive backs and linebackers were probably on a lot of your special teams. Or maybe their backups who now have to play more on defense were.

Depth problems roll downhill and can affect multiple units. That seemed to happen to USF this week.