TAMPA, Fla. —- It was a great start to the 2013 college football season, the University of South Florida running back Marcus Shaw first touch of the ball, the first play of the season and 80 yards later touchdown Bulls!
Excitement everywhere inside Raymond James Stadium, Bull fans making noise and enjoying the early success.
The rest of the game, the Bulls struggled and what started out to look so good turned out to be a 53-21 embarrassing defeat against McNeese State University in front 35,470 shocked and stunned Bulls fans.
Before the band march onto the field for the half time show, the Cowboys performance in the first half could be described as flawless, as the Cowboys scored 33 unanswered points in the first half and led at the intermission 33-7.
Nothing in the first half worked for the Bulls, in fact the entire team failed according to the University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart said after the game.
What is supposed to be a strength of the team, the Bulls defense gave up 424 yards of offense to the Cowboys meanwhile the McNeese State University defense produced three turnovers, two interceptions and one fumble that did not help the cause for the Bulls.
“We’re not as far as I thought we were but we will get their with the right guys,” Taggart said. “We are going to get there and we have to get there quickly.”
The Bull offense other than the 80 yard touchdown run stalled, the lack of quarterback play for the Bulls, the running game tried to get establish, the passing game did not appear to be crisp and the play of the offensive line could at times could have been stronger but the offense is not the only reason the Bulls start failed.
“Guys were open and dropped balls and you can’t have that especially when you’re trying to comeback,” Taggart said about the entire execution of play by his team. “We are going to practice a little bit harder and put the guys in the right places and make sure guys do exactly what we ask them to do.”
Starting at quarterback for the Bulls, transfer student-athlete from Penn State Matt Floyd. He did not have the game that he hope for, instead it was a horrible, the offense never got in sync.
Floyd completed just nine passes in 20 attempts for 72 yards but threw two interceptions, one of his turnovers resulted in a 72 yard return for a touchdown by Cowboy cornerback Guy Morgan with just 12 seconds left in the nightmare first half.
Shaw did finish the game running the ball 22 times for 145 yards, he also led the Bulls in receiving yards with 47 yards with five receptions.
Taggart trying to find some kind of offense consistency replaced Floyd at the start of the second half with Bobby Eveld.
Eveld threw for 137 yards and he threw two touchdown passes in the second half but most important for Taggart and the Bulls is that Eveld did not throw an interception.
Early in the third quarter, Eveld connected with wide receiver Stephen Bravo-Brown for a 59-yard touchdown pass. Eveld second scoring pass a seven-yard toss to Andre Davis early in the fourth quarter completing a 62 yard scoring drive.
The special team failed to be special for the Bulls, in the first quarter the play that started the change in momentum.
The Bulls in punt formation long snapper David Burdetsky snapped the football over the head of punter Mattis Ciabatti who chased the ball down and kicked it through the end zone resulting in a team safety.
The defensive line did not control the line of scrimmage, the linebackers could not support, the defensive backs is still a project in progress but defensive back Johnny Ward did get a interception in the first quarter.
Cowboys’ quarterback Cody Stroud finished the game 12 of 21 for 207 yards and he also threw two touchdown passes.
McNeese State running attack led by tailback Marcus Wiltz carried the ball 13 times for 79 yards. The Cowboys’ fullback Dylan Long ran the ball for 56 yards and found the end zone twice for the Cowboys.
“Every time we messed up they capitalized on it,” Bulls defensive linebacker and team captain DeDe Lattimore said. “They’re a great team but I can tell you one thing, we’re going to get everything right and get everything corrected.”
Lattimore finished second in the game with 7.5 tackles behind linebacker Reshard Cliett, he finished with eight tackles two that were for losses.
“I think that the no-huddle helped us, it really did and we’re not a no-huddle team,” McNeese State University football coach Mike Viator said after the game about his team’s success against the Bulls defense. “We thought about it obviously we have a senior quarterback who handled it really well. We thought it could really help us because we really didn’t have any idea what they were going to run.”
Back to the drawing board for The University of South Florida football program in preparation for next game will be Saturday afternoon September 7, 2013 at Michigan State University inside Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Michigan starting at noon.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.