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USF Football Sunday Takeaways: Memphis

The first conference win stays just out of reach.

NCAA Football: South Florida at Memphis Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

USF played some inspired football for three and a half quarters. The Bulls obviously took advantage of their open week and got better.

Unfortunately, USF seemingly took their foot off the gas and it cost them. The final half of the fourth quarter was vital and Memphis was able to come from behind and pull out a win.

Defense: Great until it wasn’t

This was more like the defense we expected to see earlier in the season. USF was aggressive and played downhill. Memphis was able to put up some yards, but a team that explosive will hit a few shots every game. USF made them earn every yard.

Until they didn’t.

There was a noticeable drop in aggression on the last two Memphis drives. Coach Scott said after the game that they wanted to make Memphis earn it and “not give them a cheap touchdown on a one-on-one”. Unfortunately, both drives covered over 70 yards in eight plays or less. Even worse, the two drives lasted 1:17 and 1:20 respectively. If you’re gonna make them earn it, the drives can’t be that short. If that’s the case, you may as well stay aggressive.

Offense: Quarterback is settled… for now

Noah Johnson got the start and the coaches rode with him the entire game. No quick hooks, no revolving door, no carousel. At least for one week. Johnson responded with his best game as a Bull going 20-29 for 217 yards and 2 touchdowns.

He did a good job hitting the explosive plays that were schemed up by the offensive staff. USF had three explosive passes, including a 75 yard touchdown pass to Kelley Joiner on a well-designed play action play. Hopefully this performance from Johnson gives the offense something to build on and gives the coaching staff the confidence to stay aggressive until the final whistle.

Special Teams: Super Shrader

The special teams have showed steady improvement. This improvement showed up in a big way at kicker. Spencer Shrader was 4-4 on field goals on the day. All four were over 40 yards.

A reliable kicker is a big weapon and one with some range can allow you to be more aggressive on offense. Hopefully the Bulls found that weapon on Saturday.