The Morning After: USF beats Western Carolina, but it doesn’t feel good

Posted: August 31, 2014 in Football

Marlon Mack was the man last night for USF (Picture credit: USF Athletics)

The Bulls defeated Western Carolina last night by a score of 36 to 31, putting USF 1-0 to start the year. The win is great and a lot better than last year, but this one doesn’t feel good at all. There were a ton of issues on both sides of the football and a lot of areas that have to be improved if this team is going to win another game. Let’s break down the sides and see how good or bad they did.

Special teams

Coach Stu Holt had to be pleased with his units. Chris Dunkley looked great in the return game and the coverage teams flew to the ball on both punts ad kickoffs. Mattias Ciabatti had 3 punts and averaged 47 yards per kick. Marvin Kloss was money again, going 3 for 3 in fields including a long of 47 yards. He is already off to a strong start and that is something to be very happy about.


To start, the offense line was awful again, at least to start the game. Quinterrius Eatmon was banged up at one point and Thor Jozwiak left the game with a shoulder injury (hope he is alright), hurting their depth, but again, they were beaten many times off the edge and right up the middle. The line spent the off-season bulking up and getting stronger, but it didn’t show too often early in the game. Now, they did get better as the game went on and Marlon Mack was able to take advantage, but they have a lot of work to do if they want to block a team that matches them in at least size.

Mike White was pretty bad in his first start of the year. He was just 9 of 26 for 181 yards and 1 bad interception. His throws were off and timing with receivers was just not there. Now Andre Davis, who had 1 grab for 44 yards, missed the second half with a bruised sternum, took away a big passing target for White, but that is no excuse for the bad throws. He did hit Rodney Adams for 3 passes for 67 yards, Deonte Welch 3 times for 33 yards, and Sean Price for one grab and 32 yards, but it wasn’t pretty. White seemed rattled during the entire game and needed to calm down and allow the game to come to him more. He did look better in the second half but it still was not pretty out there.

The big story of the game was the break out performance of Marlon Mack. The true freshman tied the single game rushing record with 275 yards on 24 carries and scored 4 touchdowns. Darius Tice was the starter, but tweaked his knee during the week, opening the door for Mack and he burst right through it. He showed power, quick feet, and secondary speed to get down the field. It will be interesting to see how he progresses in the next game and if the coaching staff just keeps feeding him the ball.


The 3-4 was pretty last night. They held Western Carolina to just 80 yards rushing but allowed 374 yards passing. Time after time, the Bulls failed to generate pressure with the defensive line and couldn’t over the short passes on wide receiver screens. The Catamounts were able to hit quick passes and keep drives alive. A few times, USF would bring the corner or nickel up to the line to press, which altered the passing game for Western Carolina but they didn’t do it consistently, allowing Western Carolina to go back to their passing game. It was frustrating to watch and something that has to be fixed real, real fast.

Jamie Byrd played well, leading the team with 11 tackles, 1 TFL, and recording an interception. Chris Dunkley had 7 tackles and Nigel Harris had 8 tackles. Elkino Watson had 2 tackles, including 1 TFL but he was banged up early in the game. Nate Godwin had 6 tackles as well. Overall, the team had just 4 sacks on the night, something that is a little alarming. The 3-4 did not get the pressure they needed and the adjustments to stop the quick throws wasn’t made consistently. The team showed their speed and flew to the ball, but it has to get better on all the levels.

I’m happy for the win, but it still doesn’t feel good. I should be excited compared to last year, but there was a lot that looked like the horror of 2013 out there. This team has a lot of work to do with Maryland coming to town next weekend.


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