TAMPA, Fla. — As the banks of lights that surround Raymond James Stadium were being turned off, the echo of the game disappear into the sky above and the glow of the full moon wash over the playing surface your poor old uncle once again was the last person to leave the stadium.
Uncle Mel walking out of the gate still shaking out the cobweb, still trying to make some kind of sense about what 30,292 of his friends inside of the cavernous home of the University of South Florida, Raymond James Stadium-witnessed.
What we all saw, was the offense for the Bulls struggle, the defense doing something that the fans of University of South Florida football been hoping for – make a play and help the offense obtain the victory.
After the rain, the University of South Florida defeated the University of Connecticut 42-27, the Bulls have become bowl eligible and remaining undefeated in the American Athletic Conference and setting at the top of the East Division.
Uncle Mel’s friend and the University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart once told your old uncle, that he has been waiting for somebody to step up and take charge and assert themselves as a team leader.
Taggart could not be more pleased, because that is what the University of South Florida’s quarterback Quinton Flowers did. He did exactly what Taggart was hoping for, he stepped up and took a leadership role on this team.
The revelation happened in the third quarter. Flowers and the offense were sitting on the bench watching the Huskies take a gift given by the USF offense and turned into a touchdown.
Flowers gather his offense around him and looked all of them in the eye and told them to keep on playing that there is plenty of football left in this game and that they just need to remain focused.
Flowers remain focused, he engineered 28 points in the second half for the Bulls helping USF overcome four turnovers to preserve the win.
“He’s one of the best ones out there,” Taggart said about his team’s quarterback. “But look around and unfortunately he doesn’t get all the hype like some of them but I assure you if you watch what he does, he does it better or just like them out there.”
Flowers threw two interceptions but he was able to throw two touchdown passes, the second seemed the biggest play of the game for the Bulls.
With 4:21 left in the fourth quarter, Flowers found his tight end Mitch Wilcox running a fade pattern into the corner of the end zone.
The pass was not a perfect throw and it looked like that University of Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu was going to make the interception and give the Huskies a chance.
Wilcox took the ball away from Melifonwu turning a worried old uncle into a happy uncle and the sound of jubilation from 32,292 into a choir of loud sweet music.
“It was a 50/50 ball, it was really frustrating for me. That is a play that I should’ve made,” Melifonwu said about the play after the game. “That is a play that I would like to have back. But kudos to him for making the play.”
With Flowers blooming into a team leader with the offense, the defense for the Bulls also had a player step up and took a leadership role, senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez took the defensive game plan and worked it to almost perfection.
Your old uncle was told, that the Huskies like to establish the run and then throw the ball. Uncle Mel’s new friend, the Bulls’ defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie worked all week on the defensive game plan.
Woodie told your old uncle, that he wanted to make life miserable for University of Connecticut quarterback Bryant Shirreffs by unleashing the Land Shark defense.
Sanchez made that happen for Woodie and the defense sacked Shirreffs five times, eliminated the running game by only allowing 72 yards of rushing.
Sanchez finished the night with three sacks and a career best 11 tackles.
“I’m tired of hearing that USF can’t play defense,” Sanchez said to Uncle Mel before he left the stadium. “It ticks us off as a defense. Just because we played one bad game, we’re viewed as not having a good enough defense. It makes us mad and gives us a little bit of extra motivation each week.”
USF pass defense did get burned for 70 yards in the third quarter when Shirreffs found running back Arkeel Newsome all alone, the touchdown gave the Huskies the lead and Uncle Mel and Taggart were concern that bad habits by the Bulls would resurface.
“It was wide open the whole way,” Newsome told Uncle Mel before he got on the Huskie’s team bus. “I just needed to get to the end zone and it felt great.”
Now nieces and nephews you just know that your old, grumpy uncle does not like to make a federal case over small inconvenient things.
Many coaches have told Uncle Mel that turnovers, is the silent killer of any team’s chemistry, turnovers can kill momentum, turnovers can make a coaches’ life miserable so players are reminded every day just how important it is to keep the ball.
Against the Huskies, the Bulls turned the ball over four times and that is enough to make the victory against the Huskies special.
Taggart and Uncle Mel still believe that four turnovers is not the usual way to win games-It usually a receipt for disaster!
Many coaches have told your old uncle that sometime you have to be lucky and against the Huskies, the Bulls were lucky enough to win the game.
Uncle Mel and his friends that watch the Bulls are hoping that the luck does not run out for the next game against a very determine Temple University football team.
Friday night, Oct 21 starting at 7 p.m. at the home of Temple University at the Lincoln Financial Field, the University of South Florida will be hoping that there luck will continue and be lucky enough to enjoy cheese and steak sandwich from Geno’s and bring home another victory.
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.