The Evening After: USF Football falls 27 to 10 to Wisconsin

Posted: September 27, 2014 in Football

The Bulls fell 27 to 10 to Wisconsin earlier today, dropping them to 2-3 on the year. USF was a 34-point underdog entering this game and was facing one of the best rushing attacks in the country. USF battled the entire game and went into the half tied 3 to 3 with the 19th ranked team in the country in the first road game of the year for USF. The Badgers came out in the second half and wore down the Bulls, but that wasn’t the full story. The Bulls had so many chances in this game and hurt themselves with self-inflicted mistakes. Let’s dig into what happened in this game.

Offense

The Bulls had 8 first downs in the game, but committed 11 penalties overall for 90 yards, hurting momentum (some of them were on the defense). The unit had the ball for just 19 minutes during the game with the Wisconsin offense dominating the second half with ball control.

Let’s start with the offensive line. Overall, they played well in this game, but the Wisconsin defense flew to the gaps and made anything tough in the running game. This was expected against a top opponent. Could they have done better? Of course, but they didn’t allow White to get sacked a ton of times and gave him some time to make some throws down the field.

The running game was not there for the Bulls the entire day, making life a little harder on the passing game and Mike White. Marlon Mack had 10 carries for 34 yards, but he wasn’t effective. At one point he had a big run but was tripped up. Kennard Swanson got a carry, D’Ernest Johnson saw action, and even White had a small run. The biggest run plays of the afternoon were the end-arounds by Rodney Adams. He had 2 for 33 yards and scored on one of them. If there were the spark plays from Adams on the trick plays, the run game would have been even quieter.

In the passing game, Mike White was 8 of 19 for 173 yards and 1 interception. White was able to make some throws, moved in the pocket, and played well overall. The interception that White had was on a long pass to Deonte Welch that hit him straight in the numbers but Welch couldn’t not catch it for some reason and it went through his arms and into the defenders arms. It’s the second straight week that a throw that hit the receiver in the numbers was picked off. Welch had another drop later in a tough game but had 1 grab for 26 yards. Overall, the receivers did not help out White like they should have. Adams had 2 catches for 20 yards but had a pass go through his hands on a deep pass. There was some interference (wasn’t called of course) but he could have had it. Mike McFarland had 2 catches for 44 yards. Kennard Swanson had 2 catches for 74 yards including a long of 52 yards but he fumbled the catch after not moving his hand over to the left hand and it cost the Bulls. It was a rough day for the receiving corps overall.

Defense

What an effort from the Bulls. USF held the Badgers to just 3 points in the first half and were able to slow the ground game of Wisconsin and hold Melvin Gordon to under 60 yards in the first half. The made several goal line stands, forced a fumble against Gordon, and kept USF in the game for most of this one. They allowed 454 yards overall including 294 on the ground, almost 90 yards under the Wisconsin average. In the second half, the defense wore down because the offense wasn’t able to stay on the field and the big offensive line of the Wisconsin wore the Bulls front line down. The defense did not have Todd Chandler in this game, forcing Deadrin Senat and other young players to step up and make plays.

Jamie Byrd led the way with 14 tackles, seeming to always be near the ball. Redshard Cliett had 3 tackles including 1 sack. Johnny Ward had 6 tackles, but had a rough afternoon with several penalties called on him throughout the game. Nate Godwin had 14 tackles and 1 FR, but also got called for pass interference late in the 2nd half. Elkino Watson had 5 tackles with 1 TFL. Nigel Harris had 6 tackles as well.

Overall, the unit was facing a monster task of slowing down Gordon and crew and for a half and change, they did it. The unit gave the offense so many chances in the first half, bottled up a Heisman caliber running back in Melvin Gordon, and kept it close for as long as possible. The unit is playing fast and its a positive sign moving forward for the rest of the year.

Special teams

The special teams unit was solid. Chris Dunkley had 3 kick returns totaling 72 yards and 1 punt return for 23 yards. Marvin Kloss had a field goal. Mattias Ciabatti had 5 punts averaging 45.6 yards per kick and kept it away from Kenzel Doe. Overall, the coverage units were great, the kicking was solid, and the unit did its job throughout the game.

Moving forward

I don’t like moral victories but understanding the rebuilding process for this program, this loss had a lot of positives. A lot of the young players made plays, the defense held, and there were signs of a passing game from Mike White. It was a hostile environment and after a long trip out there (team arrived late due to all the flight issues) the team was prepared from the opening snap and should hold their heads high. They showed they can take the field, on the road, against one of the best teams in the country and hold their own.Moving forward, the Bulls will have an off week to learn from this game and will be able to learn a lot moving forward.

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