TAMPA, Fla. — Sometime things just happen!
University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart said on many occasions that the Bulls are only good if they, secure the ball.
Against the University of Connecticut, Saturday night inside Raymond James Stadium. The Bulls turned the ball over four times and made the game interesting but the Bulls overcame the turnovers and remain undefeated in the American Athletic Conference defeating the Huskies 42-27, making the Bulls are now bowl eligible.
Taggart also said that he wants his team to be able to overcome adversity, find a player that will step up and become a leader.
“We could have played a lot better but our guys found a way to win,” Taggart said about his teams’ win. “I think we’ve been saying our football team is a team that doesn’t flinch. We keep playing.”
University of South Florida quarterback Quinton Flowers did that for his coach and for his team.
In the third quarter after the Bulls turn the ball over, which the Huskies turned into points. Over on the sideline, Flowers gathered the offensive players and told them to keep playing the game.
After falling behind for the second time during the game, Flowers lead the offense for the Bulls and USF scored 28 points in the second half to regain the lead.
The University of South Florida offense struggled to hold on to the ball but were able to gain 539 yards of total offense yards, score 42 points but still were able to end the night with a win.
“It’s a bad thing to have four turnovers but I guess it’s a good thing to score 42 points and win the game,” Taggart said about the issue of ball security. “We have to be so much better taking care of the football on the offensive side of the ball.”
Flowers ran the ball 16 times for 157 yards, he also found the end zone three times. Flowers struggled with his accuracy when throwing the ball but he finished the night by completing 23 passes after he threw the ball 37 times against the Huskies.
Flowers did throw two interceptions and was sacked once.
“We will go back and watch film and keep working on our ball security. We do that every day before we start practice,” Flowers said about his work to improve his performance. “Coach Taggart talks about it and we need to keep protecting the football.”
Junior running back for the University of South Florida, Marlon Mack, kept plugging away, he kept working and finally in the fourth quarter, Flowers leading the way for Mack after a 34-yard run Mack crossed the goal line.
“I was able to do it thanks to (Quinton) Flowers and Mitchell Wilcox blocking on the outside,” Mack said about how he scored his touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Mack carried the ball 16 times and ran for 107 yards. Mack remain busy in the offense, Flowers found Mack six times for 75 yards.
This is the first time for the University of South Florida finished the game with two runners over 100 yards in consecutive games.
The key play of the game happen at the 4:12 mark in the fourth quarter, when Wilcox was able to take away the ball out of the hands of the Huskie safety Obi Melifonwu and turning a disaster into a touchdown.
“That was a grown man catch. That was big boy ball there,” Taggart said about Wilcox’s catch. “That’s how you make your quarterback look good. It was a big, big catch for us. He is a dude. That was a big time catch.”
“It was a go route, I made eye contact with Quinton,” Wilcox said about the play. “He gave me a chance and I came up with it.”
The University of South Florida defense game play by defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie was to put pressure on the pocket, get the University of Connecticut quarterback Bryant Shirreffs uncomfortable in the pocket and control the line of scrimmage.
UConn scored first in the game with a 26-yard field goal by placekicker Bobby Puyol, a scoring drive that went 66 yards and that took 15 plays.
Woodie stuck with his game plan, his USF defense shut down the UConn running game by just giving up just 72 rushing yards and there was plenty of pressure on Shirreffs, he was sacked five times.
“Defensively, I think our guys played outstanding, holding them under 100 yards rushing,” Taggart said about USF’s defensive effort. “Our guys were aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Coach Woodie did a good job dialing up the blitzes and letting our guys get to the quarterback.”
Leading the USF defense, linebacker Auggie Sanchez, he finished the game with a career best three sacks and for the 10th time in his career he finished with double-figures in tackling, he finished with 11 tackles for the Bulls.
“As a defense we had to attack. That was our mindset. That’s what we wanted to do,” Sanchez said about the defensive game plan. “They dialed up some good pressures and I was fortunate enough to get in and have a decent game.”
University of Connecticut football coach Bob Diaco felt that the Huskies got off to good start at the beginning of the second and he was hoping to build on that momentum.
“Our guys were excited. We were ready and came out at halftime and we had good adjustments good changes that could have helped the team move forward and execute those and we were rolling there for a minute,” Diaco said. “Nobody quit. Everybody played hard. I’m in love with the players and the team. I’m proud of the way we played, we just didn’t make enough plays.”
Taggart and the Bulls next game will be out on the road with trip to the city of Philadelphia and to face Temple University at Lincoln Financial Field.
The game is scheduled for Friday night, October 21 and kicking off at 7 p.m.
Taggart and University of South Florida football fans will be hoping that stranger things keep happing to the Bulls as they continue to find out that, winning makes all of that strangeness – seem normal.
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.