By Brad Meyer | Published 09/15/2020 | USF Football
Tampa, FL – New Head Coach Jeff Scott's South Florida Bulls corralled their first victory, a win over The Citadel in the first game of this long anticipated season. The Bulls topped the Bulldogs 27-6 on the strength of a ground game that averaged 7.7 yards per carry.
Sophomores Kelley Joiner and Johnny Ford shared Offensive Player of the Game honors. Joiner led the Bulls with 87 yards on 8 carries (10.9 average) while
Ford carried the ball 9 nines for 71 yards (7.9 average). Freshman Brain Battie gained 43 yards on three carries as the Bulls totaled 302 yards on the ground.
Sophomore quarterback Jordan McCloud was one of three Bulls QBs featured. He tossed the Bulls first and only touchdown through the air. With 49 seconds remaining in the first period McCloud connected on a 10 yard back shoulder pass to Devontres Dukes to put the Bulls up 7-3. McCloud finished 11/16 for 68 yards and the Dukes touchdown.
Transfer quarterback Noah Johnson saw time, logging a 3/4, 24 yards passing line to go with seven carries for 49 yards. Freshman Katravis Marsh got in on the action completing four of five passes for ten yards.
The Bulls defense amply handled The Citadel's triple option while collecting three turnovers, three sacks and 11 tackles for loss. Antonio Grier led the unit with ten tackles, one sack and a force fumble.
The Bulls quickly got back to work to prepare for their second of three non-conference games to start the season. The Bulls travel to meet #7 Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana Saturday at 2:30 p.m. (USA Network).
The Bulls defeated the Fighting Irish at Notre Dame Stadium in 2011, 23-20 in front of more than 80,000 fans. It will be quite different this time as this younger Bulls squad - undergoing a rebuild - arrive amid a pandemic and reduced crowd size.
Still it is #7 Notre Dame, featuring graduate student quarterback Ian Book. Book was the Irish's Offensive Player of the Year last year starting all 13 games at QB, finishing the year 240-for-399 for 3,034 yards and 34 TDs with just six interceptions.
Notre Dame defeated Duke in their season-opener, 27-13. Book was 19/31 for 263 yards with one TD, one INT. Leading rusher, Kyren Williams, ran 19 times for 122 yards (5.9 average).
The Bulls will need to capitalize on mistakes as their predecessors did nine years ago. In the 2011 contest, Notre Dame had double the offensive yards of USF, but the Bulls gained the edge by forcing five Irish turnovers.
The Bulls will have to move to more traditional defense after preparing for The Citadel's triple option. Likewise on the offensive side of the ball, a more balanced approach. Against the Bulldogs, the Bulls ran 39 rushing plays to 25 passing plays. This Saturday, especially with a far more potent Irish offense, the Bulls may find themselves less able to rely on the productive run game, especially if they find themselves trailing by a wide margin.
It's another step for the program whose mantra is "BEST is the standard". You have to play the best to become the best. Jeff Scott and USF get the first look at "best" this weekend.
Brad Meyer is site founder of and a writer for TheBullsPen.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.