Time to talk about the offense and let’s just be honest, it wasn’t pretty this year. Between the shifting quarterbacks, mistakes on the field, and lack of points scored, 2014 was a tough year. The team did make improvements in some categories under first year coordinator Paul Wulff, but compared to 2013, anything would have been an improvement. Let’s review the numbers and see how the unit did this year.
This year, the Bulls scored a total of 206 points, averaging 17.2 PPG. They scored 165 points in 2013, good for 13.8 PPG. That’s a 41 point increase, but being shut out the last game of the season still leaves a bad feeling for everyone. Overall, the Bulls had 182 first downs this year, 62 coming on the ground and 104 through the air. This is up from last year’s 154 total first downs that were compiled (48 on the ground and 89 through the air). Its an increase of 28 overall first downs, but its still not good.
On the ground, USF totaled 1295 total yards rushing on 376 carries. They averaged 3.4 yards per carry, 107.9 yards per game and totaled 11 rushing touchdowns. Last year, USF had just 1064 yards rushing on 359 carries. They averaged 3 yards per carry, 88.7 yards per game and totaled just 4 rushing touchdowns during the entire season. The numbers are better across the board this year. Having a better offensive line helped and the emergence of Marlon Mack changed things. The freshman accounted for 1041 yards rushing out of the grand total as he took over as the go-to back. While the numbers are better, the 107.0 yards per game is still very low. Things were better, but not by that much.
USF totaled 2361 yards passing this season, while shuffling between 3 quarterbacks. They averaged 6.5 yards per pass, 13.2 yards per catch and averaged 196.8 yards per game (totaled 11 touchdowns). Last year, they had just 2002 yards passing while shuffling quarterbacks like they did this season. They averaged just 5.6 yards per pass attempt last year, 12.1 yards per catch and just 166.8 yards per game total (7 total passing touchdowns). Again, the numbers are improved across the board for the passing offense, but totaling just 359 more yards after one year is not a major improvement. Again, the shuffling of quarterbacks and the injuries at receiver (and offensive line) all contributed to the low numbers. The Bulls couldn’t figure out the starting quarterback for the entire season (like last year) and the numbers reflect that issue that has plagued Coach Taggart and his coaching staff for two years now (also being sacked 20 times this year didn’t help the overall rushing total at the end of the year.
Overall, USF totaled 3656 yards total in 2014 on offense on 740 plays, averaging 4.9 yards per play. They averaged 304.7 yards per game this year. In 2013, USF totaled 3066 total yards on 716 plays, which averages out to 4.3 yards per play and 255.5 yards per game total. The yards per play barely moved up by just .6 yards per play, which is not a good sign. The unit did average more yards per game overall (49.2 yards) and the overall number of plays went up but here is an issue. The Bulls time of possession actually went down this year. USF averaged 28 minutes and 21 seconds of possession this year compared to 28 minutes and 50 seconds in 2013. While it isn’t the biggest difference in time (29 seconds) it is still something that should be noted. The defense had something to contribute to it, but the USF offense, while running more plays, couldn’t stay on the field when it mattered most, especially on third downs.
This year, USF converted 65 out of 173 third down attempts, which is only 38% of the time. In 2013, USF converted 48 out of 172 attempts, which was just 28%. The percentage is up 10 points, but is still very low and shows how the Bulls were unable to keep drives alive and convert. They converted 9 out of 19 4th down conversions which is 47%. They were just 5 out of 16 last year, good for 31%. The 4th down conversions were critical for the comeback win over SMU but aside from that, the number was that much better compared to a year ago. The Bulls just couldn’t keep drives alive for the 2nd straight year, showing how the offense is still not producing. A scary number that really reflects this is the redzone scoring numbers from this year.
This year, USF converted 19 out of 27 trips in the redzone into points (70%). However, only 9 of those 27 trips came away with touchdowns, just 33% of them! In 2013, USF converted on 14 out of 19 redzone trips, 74%. Of those, 7 were good for touchdowns, a 37% mark. More trips, barely any more touchdowns and a lower percentage! This sums up the USF offense in 2014. Better than 2013, but just barely.
So, there you have it, the numbers on offense this year. Across the board, they are slightly better than last year, but after a season that was near the basement in everything, the improvements aren’t that great. The Bulls still continued to struggle in the run game, only being saved by the personal efforts of Marlon Mack and others. The offensive line was was better this year, but not by much. The biggest issue once again was the quarterback position. The team shuffled in three different players throughout the year, trying to find the right spark, but it never came (just look at the last game). The Bulls brought in coordinator Paul Wulff in the offseason after just one year under Walt Wells in hopes of improving the offense and the play of the offensive line. They did play better compared to a year before, but just barely. The entire unit continued to struggle and may have regressed at the end of the year. The unit needs to figure it out in the offseason and we all hope year three has better days ahead for everyone.