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2015: This Could Change Everything

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2015: This Could Change Everything

August 10, 2016

On Sept. 3, the Bulls will start their 20th season of football.  This summer we’ll take a look back at 20 moments, one for each season, including the “practice but no games” year of 1996.  These may not be the biggest moments in USF history; they may not even be moments where things went right for the Bulls.  But they help define the program, remind us where the time has gone, and show how our Bulls have progressed as season 20 gets closer and closer.

20 Seasons, 20 Memories: 20th Edition (2015)

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Voice of the Bulls

TAMPA, AUG. 10, 2016 – As our 20th season of USF Football approaches, the Bulls have had more than their share of memorable plays. 

You no doubt have your favorites; whether it was Matt Grothe to Jessie Hester at Auburn, the goal line stop at Florida State, Ben Moffitt’s interception against West Virginia, Maikon Bonani against Kansas or any one of a number of other plays, it’s pretty easy to isolate the moments that have helped define the first two decades of USF Football. There have been a good amount of fan favorite plays, and most of those plays were also important ones in the history of the program.

Many of those moments came years ago.  It takes some time for us to fully understand the meaning of a transcending play, and how it affects the overall program.  When thinking about a list like this, it’s difficult to add a play that is less than a year old; there’s certainly not much context to that moment.  Even so, I would include a play from Oct. 10, 2015.  I’d include it both for what came after, and for what lies ahead.

In week five of the season, the Bulls hosted Syracuse and they were hungry for a win. USF was on a three-game losing streak and had fallen to 1-3.  The Orange wouldn’t be an easy task; they had started 3-1 and had their offense rolling.

Things were moving along pretty well for the Bulls. They led, 10-3, at the half, and were up, 17-3, midway through the third quarter.  After forcing a punt, the Bulls got the ball back and Quinton Flowers hit Rodney Adams for 33 yards, setting up a first-and-10 at the Syracuse 42. 

Then came our play.

If you have the chance to attend football practices, you know that teams work on a variety of plays you rarely, if ever, see in a game.  At this stage of USF’s development, the Bulls didn’t use many “gadget” plays.  Willie Taggart was determined that his team execute the fundamentals of the offense properly.  The trick plays would come later when the basics were mastered.

That didn’t mean, however, that flea-flickers, reverses, on-side kicks and a few other gems weren’t in the playbook.  They were, and they were rehearsed periodically at practices. 

Around this time, Coach Taggart had begun to talk about turning the players loose and opening up the playbook, especially on offense.  It was a matter of waiting for the right time.  And the right time arrived with 10:02 remaining in the third quarter.


Flowers pitched to Marlon Mack, running right. Mack then pitched to Adams, coming back to the middle of the field.  Adams pitched backward to Flowers, who hit Ryshene Bronson for a 42-yard touchdown. 

Wow.  Was this us?

From that moment, the Bulls offense changed, and the team’s fortunes changed as well.  The play gave the Bulls a 24-3 lead and they went on to beat Syracuse.

You know the rest; 7-1 in the next eight games, a win over nationally ranked Temple and the first bowl game in five years.

Looking back at the tape of that play, there were two close calls.  Adams had to fight off a defender behind the line of scrimmage to make the pitch back to Flowers, and Bronson, who had to wait a second for the ball, just did hold onto it after contact from the defensive back.  But the play worked, and from that moment, there was no looking back.

Soon, D’Ernest Johnson was throwing touchdown passes. Adams was running reverses. Defenses had no idea what was coming when USF had the ball, and 2016 Bulls opponents are going to have the same problem.

This play didn’t necessarily lead to the Bulls beating Syracuse that day; USF was up two touchdowns before that.  But the play did signal that the coaches felt the players were ready for a greater variety of offensive options, and could execute them.  That turned out to be extraordinarily bad news for the teams on the rest of the Bulls’ schedule.

The Bulls will maintain this offensive philosophy in 2016.  The USF offense will be fast, unpredictable, and probably a bit remorseless.  And boy, will it will be fun to watch.

Buy your tickets and enjoy the 20th season of USF Football, and in 2036, we can look back at the next 20 seasons our Bulls have given us.



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Finally a full season of entertaining football 

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My buddy and I actually had a chance to be down on the sideline right when they ran this play and I remember being awestruck as the play unfolded basically right in front of us. Crazy how close Bronson was to dropping the pass, who knows what happens after that if he does

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But the play did signal that the coaches felt the players were ready for a greater variety of offensive options, and could execute them.  That turned out to be extraordinarily bad news for the teams on the rest of the Bulls’ schedule

I missed watching this game as I was out of town and had no TV and very little cell reception.  When I saw we won with 45 points, I was shocked.  I said to my wife, maybe something's clicked with the team.  We beat UConn and I just saw confidence coming from QF and the team, even though that score was a little closer than I liked (always has been with the Huskies). SMU through ECU (with the exception of Navy), I was like, this team is learning to persevere and win.  After the Temple game until the rest of the year, I finally realized the team figured it out and I was ready for 2016 football as soon as the clock ran out against UCF.  

I know we lost to WKU, but that was a Taggart-style team that was very experienced and solid all the way through.  If we can play with the rhythm and confidence we had in the back half of the regular season, and as tough as WKU played us, I don't think there's anything outside of FSU stopping us this year.  

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That was a fun game to be at and see it all come together. Even though it was a 3:30 in the scorching heat and barely anybody came. They missed out. One thing that I'll never forget is how many Cuse linemen went down with cramps; the Florida heat and speed just gassed them. This was a Cuse team that hung around with LSU, too.

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