3 Takeaways From USF’s First Program Win Over Big Ten School

Penalties, blocked kicks, then more yellow flags seemed to be the sequence as USF secured its first win over a Big Ten team in program history. The Bulls took down Illinois 47-23 at Raymond James and extended their nation-leading streak of 20 straight games scoring 30 plus points.

The headline of tonight was the ridiculous amount of penalties both teams cumulated. A combined 31 penalties for 278 yards were racked up, most of which came in the first half as 240 yards of combined penalties had people in disbelief before halftime.

There were 87 high school football teams, and 2,154 first responders and their families present at tonight’s game after head coach Charlie Strong offered free admission in hopes of keeping the community together following Hurricane Irma. Smart on his part as many high school players witnessed an AAC team take down a Power Five school.

Defense Continues To Get Better And Better

One of the first orders of business for Strong, when he came to Tampa, was to address the struggles on defense for USF. Now three games into the season and it is visibly clear he has done just that.

Strong and defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary worked on the basics throughout and spring and fall camp. Tonight the USF defense not only exhibited better tackling but also showed more aggression at the line of scrimmage.

The defense allowed Illinois just 354 total yards, 67 of which were rushing yards and 287 passing. Illinois was held to just 15 first downs and only converted six of 15 third downs.

CB Ronnie Hoggins and CB Tajee Fullwood both came up with interceptions, one off of each quarterback Illinois played (Chayce Crouch and Jeff George, Jr.). The Bulls held Illinois to 55 total plays.

Special Teams Haven’t Been All That Special

Twice USF saw an attempted field goal blocked tonight. Those blocks accounted for four blocked kicks this year in less than nine quarters… Ouch.

Not much of an issue before but now it looks like special teams need some addressing this short week before USF takes on Temple on Thursday night.

During the game, ESPN’s Mack Brown suggested USF’s special team’s protection may not be to blame for these blocked field goals. Instead, it might be a problem with getting the ball off late. Whichever, we can only hope it gets fixed quickly. There’s nothing quite as disappointing than scoring and in exchange having that one extra point denied.

Is The Gulf Coast Offense Back?

Remeber former head coach Willie Taggart’s Gulf Coast Offense? Well, it looked like offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert might have found a pace the o-line agrees with him on.

In USF’s first two games of the season, the offense was slower and not as explosive as displayed last season. Tonight USF showed off a more up-tempo offense, and a diversified one at that with tailback draws and jet sweeps.

Quarterback Quinton Flowers led the offense to 682 total yards, which is the second most in program history, and 38 first downs. The 2016 AAC Offensive Player of the Year threw for 280 yards and ran for 106. His scrambling and deep throws fueled USF past the Illinois defense.

Of course, he wasn’t alone. USF’s run game was very impressive tonight as the Bulls had three 100-yard rushers in the same game for only the second time in program history.

Running backs D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice each ran for over 100 yards. Tice had one rushing touchdown, and Johnson had one receiving touchdown.

Side Notes:

    • With four touchdown passes, Flowers tied his career high of TD passes per game. He also tied former running back Marlon Mack’s program TD run record of 32. Flowers passed former quarterbacks Matt Grothe and B.J. Daniels for second all-time TD passes.USF

  • USF has a short week as they look ahead to their first conference game of the season against Temple Thursday night.
  • The Bulls were 0-5 against Big Ten teams and clinched their first win over a Big Ten team tonight.
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Allison Leslie is a University of South Florida graduate with a bachelors degree in Mass Communications. She joined Genesis in 2016. With a passion for sports, Allison has interned with 620 WDAE, Pewter Report, Trifecta Team: St. Petersburg Bowl, Bullscast, and many other publications. Being a native to the Bay Area, she has followed and supported Tampa Bay teams her whole life.