Opponent: No. 25 BYU Cougars
2021 Record: 11-3
Head Coach: Kalani Sitake (48-29 at BYU)
Date/Time/Location: Saturday, September 3, 4 p.m., Raymond James Stadium (69,457), Tampa, FL
How To Watch/Listen: ESPNU, 102.5FM, Bulls Unlimited
Series History: Series tied 1-1. Last: Cougars won 35-27 in 2021 in Provo.
We’ve finally made it folks! The 2022 USF football season is upon us, and we’re ready to be hurt again. The Bulls limped through the 2021 season and finished with a 2-10 record, but head coach Jeff Scott hopes he’s pulled the right levers during the offseason in the transfer portal and recruiting to see them turn the corner.
Enter No. 25 BYU on Saturday. It’s definitely not starting with South Carolina State to start the season that’s for sure. Baylor transfer quarterback Gerry Bohanon will get the nod for the Bulls after beating out Timmy McClain for the QB1 spot in fall camp. He’ll be flanked by a stable of returning skill position talent like running backs Jaren Mangham, and All-American Brian Battie, as well as receivers Xavier Weaver and Jimmy Horn. They’re joined by Clemson transfers RB Mikey Dukes, and WR Ajou Ajou, plus UNC transfer WR Khafre Brown to create legitimate depth at those positions for the first time in a few years.
Bohanon had success in 2021 against the Cougars as he threw for 231 yards and touchdown to lead the Bears to a 38-24 over BYU. He’s going to need to put up those kinds of numbers and then some to keep pace with a fairly potent Cougars offense.
USF should be able to score points against the Cougars again in 2021—even if this game is a FBS season opener. Just like the Bulls, BYU returns a ton of production from a 10-3 2021 team, so if the USF defense is supposed to improve because they’re returning talent and production, it’s only fair to assume BYU will too.
#USF hasn’t scored a point in a FBS opener since Blake Barnett’s 5-yard TD run with 2:13 left left in the Georgia Tech game in 2018.— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) August 8, 2022
2019: Wisconsin 49-0
2020: Notre Dame 52-0 (COVID)
2021: NC State 45-0 https://t.co/nHcHLiQsYR
BYU QB Jaren Hall is the first of a multitude of talented quarterbacks the Bulls will face this season. He’s an NFL caliber player and is flanked by two very talented wide receivers in Puka Nacua and Gunner Romney (both are questionable to play). The Cougars brought in Cal running back Chris Brooks (607 rushing yards, four TDs, 19 catches, three TDs) to help replace Tyler Allgeier who now plays for the Atlanta Falcons. Add in an offensive line that doesn’t have a single starter under 6’4, 300 pounds, and the revamped Bulls defensive line is going to be in for a long day.
For a team that finished dead last in defensive sacks (9), the Bulls MUST make Hall uncomfortable, and be marginally better against the run to have a chance. Create havoc plays, force a turnover or two, and sustain drives while punching the ball in for touchdowns instead of field goals. Seems easy enough.
Just don’t get shutout again in a FBS opener and we’ll call it progress.