CINCINNATI, Ohio — The weather in the Queen City was perfect Saturday night for your old pal and uncle. There was no need for a winter coat, mittens or scarf to wear for protection against any cold weather.
Uncle Mel traveled north on the I-75 expressway and drove over the bridge that connects the state of Ohio and the city of Cincinnati with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. He found the exit to the brand new and improved Nippert Stadium and the home of the University of Cincinnati.
With ticket in hand, your old pal joined the crowd of 35,108 and we all sat in brand new seats and we all watched the game between the University of South Florida and the University of Cincinnati.
What started out to be a head shaker of a game between the Bearcats and the Bulls, ended up to be a good night for Uncle Mel and the Bulls’ Gulf Coast Express and the Bull Sharks defense woke up, came alive and resurrected a 45-20, victory against the Bearcats on the bank of the might Ohio River.
In the first quarter, the Bulls looked a little shaky, still hung over from last Saturday’s lost to Florida State University and that concern your old Uncle.
University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart keeps telling your old uncle, that your old uncle just needs to have more patient with the Bulls but that’s a hard lesson to learn.
It took a little time before the offense for the Bulls figure out what they needed to do against a fired-up Bearcats’ defense.
The offense made some in-game adjustment by adding just enough running plays but also to get USF quarterback Quinton Flowers to add some pass to make the offense roll.
In the first half, the struggling Bulls’ defense made Taggart and his Defensive Coordinator Raymond Woodie pace a little more up and down the Bulls’ sideline, as both coaches watched the defense struggle against the University of Cincinnati offense.
It made your old uncle in the stand nervous too, in fact by the end of the first quarter Uncle Mel was looking for a Nippert Stadium hot dog vendor.
Watching the Bulls’ defense give up 20 points in the first half and making starting quarterback Ross Trail look like the second-coming of long time Bengals quarterback Kenny Anderson and the ability of Tion Green to dance into the end zone just like Icky Wood – Tion’s shuffle.
The success of the Bearcats offense, was not making the consumption of an Ohio hot dogs a pleasurable experience for Uncle Mel.
Taggart keeps telling Uncle Mel, hang in there because, you all have not seen nothing yet!
He was right.
As halftime approached, something happen to the Bulls, Flowers and Marlon Mack took control of the game and when halftime arrived and both teams left the field, the Bulls’ clung on to a four point lead. Uncle Mel decided that a bowl of chili could help prepare for the second half.
As the door to locker room closed, the room went quiet, Woodie stepped up and began to talk to the defense but what was said is a mystery, just like the chili at Nippert Stadium.
Taggart assure Uncle Mel that he didn’t have or needed to say a word, the message was delivered and the defense understood loud and clear.
If the Bulls’ were going to contain the Bearcats and leave the state of Ohio, the city of Cincinnati and go home with a win they all needed to wake up and complete their job.
Like Nippert Stadium, the USF defense came out of the locker room looking like refurbished team, there was a spark of life in them and a change of attitude.
They were mean, like the chili, they were lean, like the hot dogs and they flew with a purpose to the ball-to punish any University of Cincinnati ball carrier.
Like the food consumed by you uncle at Nippert Stadium, the University of South Florida defense wanted to make a statement.
Now nieces and nephews, Taggart reassures Uncle Mel that he didn’t have to say a word but there was something said inside the locker room at halftime because even University of Cincinnati football coach Tommy Tuberville had to take a double-look.
Whatever he tried to do with his Bearcat offense, the Bulls defense had the right answer.
There were blitzes that were working, there were Bulls’ defenders making tackles in the backfield for losses and there were even interceptions made by the Bulls defensive backs.
After Bulls’ defensive back Johnny Ward stepped in front of a Trail’s pass and caught it, he returned the ball 11-yards for a touchdown with 1:32 left in the third quarter and that was enough for Tuberville, he made a change at quarterback.
Now nieces and nephews, you know your old buddy Uncle Mel does not like to rain on anybody’s parade but where was this effort by the defense against Florida State University?
USF defense showed that they have character, that they all have heart and that they all believe in Taggart’s philosophy. It just proved to USF football fans that the Bulls can play defense.
Imagine if they would have played like that against the Seminoles, we would all still be talking about the victory instead of the disappointment.
Taggart tells your old Uncle Mel a good football fan needs to stop reliving the past and enjoy the present.
Once again Taggart is right, the University of South Florida did leave the state of Ohio, the city of Cincinnati behind with a victory and an impressive way to start the quest for the American Athletic Conference title.
USF is hoping to continue their impressive winning way Saturday afternoon October 8, 2016 at home inside the luxurious Raymond James Stadium against East Carolina University starting at noon.
Uncle Mel will be on hand to help celebrate this year’s edition of Homecoming and your old uncle will have plenty of good food on the grill, ice cold beverages and the good company of all his nieces and nephews in hope that the Bulls can extend the party with an impressive win against the Pirates.
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.