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USF Football Sunday Takeaways: The Citadel

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Three thoughts on win number one in the Jeff Scott era.

NCAA Football: Citadel at South Florida Matt Stamey-USA TODAY Sports
  1. The USF defense played awesome. The Citadel started 5-of-6 on third down before the USF defense totally settled in. Once the Bulls found their bearings, they held the Bulldogs to a paltry 3-of-12 on third downs to close the game. The Bulls played downhill and were flying all over the field. The USF defense was able to stifle The Citadel triple option attack and put them into third and long situations. The Bulldogs aren’t built to convert third and longs, and the average distance of their last 12 third downs: 11 yards. That’s a brutal distance for any offense, much less one that struggles to throw.
  2. Special teams are finally getting some attention. The special team units have their own coach this season, and it shows. The varying units provided some big plays for USF, including the most unique play I’ve ever seen. After a delay of game penalty, Citadel was forced to punt from the shadow of their own goal post. The punter bobbled the snap, evaded the USF rush and hit a nice little flop shot to the front corner of the end zone. Unfortunately for him, it was his own end zone and USF freshman wide receiver Omarion Dollison caught the punt in the end zone for possibly the sport’s first-ever zero yard punt return touchdown. Beyond that mind-bending play, the special teams also recovered a muffed punt, and gave USF an 18 yard average starting field position advantage on the night. According to Bill Connelly’s Five Factors , that big of a field position disparity results in 93% winning percentage and an average winning margin of nearly 29 points.
  3. The offense was able to move the ball with both quarterbacks, especially on the ground. The Bulls rushed for over 300 yards while missing three starters on the offensive line. However, I am a little worried by the lack of explosiveness in the passing game. The quarterbacks completed 18 of 25 passes for only 102 yards. The long reception of the night was a 19-yard back shoulder fade by Sincere Brown. This is only game one, and with so many starters missing up front, the plan may have just been to get the ball out of the quarterback’s hand as fast as possible. Hopefully, we see some more explosiveness in the passing game in the coming weeks.