The Morning After: USF Falls to Houston

Posted: November 2, 2014 in Football

We thought the offense had taken a step back in the Cincinnati game. Man, we were wrong. The Bulls fell 27 to 3, dropping their overall record to 3-6 (2-3) on the year in front of a sparse but frustrated crowd. The offense couldn’t beat their shadow and the defense faltered at times as the Bulls continue to struggle late in the year. There will be a lot of soul searching in the bye week after this game. 

Offense

What offense? USF managed just 222 yards of total offense throughout the entire game, rushing for just 76 yards total on the game. The plays were very conservative to start and the unit just did not get the job done. Houston played well and we can’t discount that, but the unit looked lost and the play calling  was awful. Time after time plays came in with just seconds left on the clock and the offense couldn’t figure it out. It was a mess from start to finish.

Steven Bench was 12 for 25 for 147 yards and 1 interception late in the game. He ran 6 times but the yards lost from being sacked 3 times he had negative 9 yards on the game. Bench struggled from the start to get the offense going. The playcalling was not consistent and when called upon to throw the ball, Bench struggled to get the ball down the field. Quinton Flowers came in for one series and was 1 for 1 for negative yards. The play calling and use of both quarterbacks was puzzling at best and it was not fun to watch. The coaching staff has a lot of work to do here.

Marlon Mack had 13 carries for 37 yards (2 catches for 11 yards). D’Ernest Johnson had 6 carries for 14 yards (2 catches for 31 yards). Darius Tice had 4 carries for 24 yards. Overall it was a very quiet and unproductive day for the rushing game in this game. Houston stacked the box and knew the run was coming time and time again and the Bulls couldn’t do anything about it. The running lanes disappeared fast and Mack and company had no where to go in this game. For a team that relies on the run, they couldn’t get a thing going for the entire 60 minutes.

Deonte Welch had 3 catches for 55 yards (amazed me to be real honest). Kennard Swanson had 3 catches for 26 yards (notice the lack of receivers catching the passes in this game). Andre Davis had 1 grab for 17 yards after missing the entire first half due to his suspension. Mike McFarland had 1 grab for 7 yards and dropped 2 more passes (doesn’t help the offense much). Overall, it was not the best day to be a receiver for the USF offense.

This was awful. The coaches made the move to bench White and go with Bench and it failed. The use of Quinton Flowers continues to confuse everyone and the offense couldn’t figure out how to get anything against Houston. It was one of the few times in program history USF was held without a touchdown and the Bulls avoided being shut out at home for the first time in program history by just 3 points. This unit is a mess and needs a complete restart moving forward.

Defense

It was the tale of good and bad once again for the unit. They stopped the Houston passing game, keeping everything short and right in front of them. But the running game, which went for over 200 yards again, was the nail in the coffin for the defense. As the game wore on, Houston continued to run right at the Bulls defense and the inability to make a tackle in space allowed for YAC and kept long drives alive. I haven’t seen a unit that fails to tackle people so often. Arm tackles and poor angles are just some of the issues this unit is making and they haven’t figured it out all year long.

Jamie Byrd led the team in tackles with 14 (why is the safety the leading tackler?). Auggie Sanchez had 7 tackles. Todd Chandler had 5 tackles with 1 TFL. LeGrande Harley and Nate Godwin each had 4 tackles. Reshard Cliett had 4 tackles with 2 TFL (played well in this game).

Overall they didn’t give up huge plays unit a late touchdown run, but the unit just didn’t do anything to help out the struggling offense. They couldn’t get off the field on 3rd downs and they failed to make tackles in the open field. While it wasn’t a huge blow out win for Houston, it felt like it watching this game. Once again, Coach Bresnahan was beaten when it came to schemes. Something we are getting really familiar with around here.

Special teams

It was a fairly quiet day for the unit. Marvin Kloss was 1 for 2 in field goal attempts. One of them, from 43 yards out, was blown down by the swirling wind gusts, so that one wasn’t his fault. Mattias Ciabatti punted it 4 times and averaged 43 yards a kick, doing well with the weather conditions. The biggest issue was a punt return attempt from Hassan Childs. He tried to catch it over his back in the windy conditions and it was muffed into the endzone where USF was fortunate enough to fall on it. Never field a punt over your back, especially when its flying in the wind and you are running after it. It was a stupid idea and nearly cost the Bulls more points there.

Moving forward

It wasn’t the bad referees and their whistles, or the wind, it was just bad football on Saturday. The offense looked even worse with Steven Bench. There was no passing game, the run game went away fast, and the offensive line didn’t dig in when they were called upon. This team took another step back on Saturday afternoon. There is no progress to see out there and its not good. The offense, after waking up against Tulsa, has regressed for two straight weeks and there is no sign of turning it around. The defense can’t seem to figure out anything and opponents continue to run all over them. Where is the learning and progression now? Where is the energy and passion with this team? They seem lifeless out there on the field and its not good. They now have a bye week to recover, regroup, and try to figure out everything. They have a lot of work to do.

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