TAMPA, Fla. —- What a great day for football, the blue sky is covered by thin and wispy clouds slowly drifting away, sun is shining on the field and 2013 University of South Florida Homecoming celebration.
The Bulls celebrated this years’ homecoming by hosting the No.18 team in the coaches polls and No. 16 in the computer poll, the University of Louisville but the Cardinals will be coming into Raymond James Stadium turf, an angry team and not too much of a party mood.
The last time the Cardinals played, they were defeated by the University of Central Florida 38-35 at home, in front of a large crowd at Papa John’s Stadium and a national television audience.
The University of South Florida did all that they could do on defense to give themselves a chance to beat the Cardinals but the offense failed to produce, yardage, time of possession or points and the University of Louisville defeated the Bulls 34-3, sending mostly a homecoming crowd of 35,782 home with frowns.
The University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart said , his team needs to find a spark on the offensive side of the ball and he knows that is the biggest issue that his staff and players are facing going into the short work week.
“You all know that it is the biggest issue with this football team,” Taggart said about the offense. “Got to find playmakers, I told this football team, we are going to find playmakers I don’t know were to find them but we are going to find them. If it playing guys both ways but we are going to find someone.”
The opening drive of the day by the University of Louisville, under the direction of Cardinals, quarterback Teddy Bridgewater completed a 20 yard touchdown pass Damian Copeland completing a 90 yard scoring drive in nine plays
Bridgewater proved that he is going to play at the next level, he finished the day throwing the ball 29 times and completing 25 passes for 344 yards. The Bulls did get to him three times in the first half but Bridgewater said after the game that his offensive line made adjustments during halftime and came out in the second half and performed.
“It was a great performance, the guys responded well after last week and we did what we said what we wanted to do,” Bridgewater said. “We showed our maturity by responding well. Try to stay clean the entire game but things happen through out the game but we made some adjustments we have a great group of guys up front in the offensive line and those guys work the hardest to keep the quarterback clean.”
“I see him being the number one quarterback taken on Sunday, he is so poised, he’s though, he’s smart,” Taggart said about Cardinals quarterback Bridgewater. “You watch this team you see the receiver they go get the ball, they attack the ball, they are excited to catch the ball. More important and what I think about Teddy Bridgewater is that is what we got to a better job in our offense throwing to our backs a lot of those yards they completed was to the backs.”
The Bulls defense took a minute to catch their collective breathes because that was all the time that the Bulls offense could hold on to the ball, just moving the ball 15 yards in five plays before punting the ball to the Cardinals.
Before the second Cardinal offense possession, the Bulls defense looked at pictures and made defensive adjustment on the sideline, the Bulls defense recognized the offense and the defensive line started to get behind the line of scrimmage.
The Bulls’ defensive line opened up rushing lanes for the linebackers and DeDe Lattimore and Reshard Cliett caught Bridgewater in the backfield and each linebacker recorded a sack for the Bulls.
“We played pretty good,” Lattimore said about the play of the Bulls’ defense. “We gave up too many deep passes, Teddy is a smart player he checked down to his backs. We are not frustrated, need to get healthy and we are very close.”
The Bulls’ defense did everything in their power to keep the Bulls in the game but the Bulls’ offense could not get any rhythm or any success in the first half and after starting quarterback Bobby Eveld went down with an injury in the second quarter, the task for the offense got harder.
Replacing Eveld, Taggart went to Steven Bench who is still not at 100 percent according to his coach but he threw the ball 12 times completing four passes for a total of 68 yards, he also threw a 70-yard interception that was returned to the end zone by Cardinals defensive back Charles Gaines
The running game could not get establish and so the Bulls could not control the tempo of the game. The passing game could not help the running game because there was not enough time for the Bulls’ quarterback to find a receiver. When Eveld or his replacement Bench did find a receiver, on the rare occasion that the offense line could keep the Cardinal defensive wave at bay, the Bulls’ receivers dropped the ball.
Leading the Bulls rushing attack Darius Tice, he carried the ball seven times for a total of 41 yards.
Leading rusher for the Bulls Marcus Shaw is still on the sideline with an injury but is close to returning to the lineup for the Bulls.
The Bulls offense could only manage to gain 133 yards of total offense and only ran 39 offensive plays and according to Taggart that is not enough, especially when you are playing a team that has Bridgewater at quarterback.
“I like the way we competed today, defensively we made some key stops and get a touchdown on a turnover by Charlie Gaines,” University of Louisville football coach Charles Strong said about the way his team performed. “Offensively it was great to see Teddy go 25 out of 29 and them watch Dominique Brown go rush over 100 yards. Very well pleased but we can always improve.”
The Cardinals running game led by Brown did just enough to create an offensive balance for the Cardinals and kept the Bulls defense honest
Brown ran the 18 times for 125 yards, his longest run of the day a 32 yards sprint in the first quarter set up the first Cardinal touchdown. He caught six passes for 61 yards including a 5-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
“We need production from our offense, I think why we gave up some many points is because we did not do anything offensively,” Taggart said. “They had over 40 minutes of possession and that is from us not getting first downs. There were times when our defense didn’t get off the field we expect them to do better in that situations.”
“Get back to work and find some playmakers,” Taggart said about the lack of offense. “We got to coach them better and get some guys that can make plays. We got to find away to get it done, it is on all of us to get it done.”
The only points of the game for the Bulls came from Marvin Kloss, he made a 50-yard field goal in the first quarter.
Taggart said that the defense played well enough for the Bulls to win the game but the lack of production from the offense hurt his team’s chances.
This week will be a short work week on the practice field, the next game the University of South Florida will travel to face the University of Houston at Reliant Stadium, Thursday, Halloween night beginning at 7 p.m.
Taggart is hoping to find enough treats in his bags to celebrate a Happy Halloween and come back home with a victory over the Cougars.
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.