The USF Bulls (6-0, 3-0) took down American Athletic Conference opponent Cincinnati (2-5, 0-3) at Raymond James Stadium in front of a homecoming crowd of 43,708.
It was another win for the Bulls as they extended their nation-leading record of 23 straight games scoring 30 plus points, but it was also another inside look at their struggles. Discipline has been in the spotlight for the past couple of games and it looked to be no better tonight.
In the first half alone USF had a total of nine penalties for 89 yards though an unsportsmanlike conduct call came at the end of the first half and would be applied to the kickoff in the second half. The Bulls would end the win with 14 penalties for 137 yards.
That almost surpassed a couple of weeks ago when the Bulls had 16 penalties for 140 yards against Illinois and last game against ECU with eight penalties for 102 yards.
“We can play much better than what we played, we’ve got execute,” said head coach Charlie Strong. “Too many penalties.”
Could this go hand-in-hand with USF’s slow start and lack of momentum in the first half? You bet it could. How much better could the Bulls’ offense be without those killer yellow flags?
“We don’t know how far we can go. We haven’t yet put together a complete game on offense, on defense and in the kicking game,” Strong said after the game. “It hasn’t happened yet. When we get that to happen, we’ll see what type of team we really are.”
The Bulls Continue To Lack Momentum In The First Half
Slow starts have become a trend, so much that fans no longer grip the edge of their seats when the score is close or the Bulls are trailing at halftime.
In fact, the first touchdown of the game came with less than three minutes left in the second quarter. Up untill then the only points came from field goals. Kicker Emilio Nadelman tied the school record of 13 consecutive field goals when he connected on all four in tonight’s game.
“We’re a better team than what we showed tonight. We can’t just go out there and kind of just go through the motions thinking we’re better than what we actually are,” said Strong. “Because we can improve, we can get much better, we haven’t arrived yet.”
Fans could easily see quarterback Quinton Flowers getting frustrated on failed plays throughout the night.
“I feel like we played a little sloppy today,” said Flowers. “We just have to continue playing the game.”
“That wasn’t our best performance,” middle linebacker Auggie Sanchez said. “It’s good on the scoreboard, but when you go chop up film, there’s gonna be a lot of holes in the defensive and the offensive game. So we’ve got to kind of correct those and get back to work, because Tulane is gonna be a good test.”
Strong attributed some of the slow play and penalties to the coaching staff.
“That’s on the coaching staff. When things like this happen it’s all about the coaching and we allow it to happen. When you allow it to happen you see what happens out there.”
Better execution is needed for the Bulls especially with rival UCF looming in the background.
We Covered The Bad And The Ugly, Now For The Good
While tonight’s win wasn’t pretty, it was still a win and there were some definite highlights. It was first and ten and Flowers couldn’t find any receivers so he did what he normally does… he ran.
With that 11-yard run Flowers earned himself 3,000 career rushing yards, just the second Bull to rush for that many yards. In the ECU game he had already passed former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow as the state’s leading career rusher but that didn’t stop him from using his legs tonight. The 2016 AAC Offensive Player of the Year finished tonight’s match with 184 passing yards and 80 rushing yards.
Flowers arm and legs helped lead the Bulls to 402 total yards and tied the NCAA record for 23 straight games scoring 30 plus points. Oregon’s 2011-12 team holds the record of 23.
On the other side of the ball, USF’s defense continues to show improvement from last year. The Bulls have at least two takeaways in each game this season following a forced and recovered fumble by the Bulls in the second half. In the first half Sanchez’s pick-six extended USF’s nation-leading interception total to 15.
USF will travel to New Orleans to take on Tulane on Saturday, October 21 at 7:00 pm.