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Matt Richardson

If the game against Elon University was to be considered a proxy for a pre-season game, it showed. Although the Bulls were thought by many to simply show up to the game and roll over the Phoenix, the rust of a first game of the season showed through.

After Appalachian State upset Michigan earlier in the day many in Bull nation should have been sufficiently forewarned that the same thing could have happened to South Florida at the hands of Elon. It could have happened but it didn’t. The Bulls rode the hands and feet of freshman running back Mike Ford, who scored three times, and led the Bulls to a 28-13 win over Elon.

After all the preseason hype that the Bulls got from becoming media darlings, the difficulty the Bulls had getting any consistency during their tune-up game is a perfect example of why wins in the media don’t matter, wins on the field do.

But the football Gods tried to tell Bull nation about premature prognostication.

Before the Bulls came on the field a fireworks crew was setting up what looked to be a pretty cool fireworks display to welcome the Bulls to the new season. Unfortunately one of the displays went off early, evidently hitting one of the crew somewhere on his upper torso or head.

I think, and I wasn’t down on the field, but it looked a lot worse than it was. In fact even though after the individual ran off the field and collapsed on the sideline, shirt and hair smoking, in the end he was able to stand up on his own and was able to walk over to the medi-cart and leaving the field holding his arm away from his body. No doubt he was burnt and probably in some level of pain but it could have been much, much worse. At any rate we hope the individual has a quick recovery and is soon back in the business of making things blow up to the delight of onlookers.

So it was apropos that all the premature love for the Bulls may have been just that, premature. In the words of, this just in, a pretty good sport caster in his own right, Chris Berman, “That’s why they play the game.”

Elon, led by a freshman quarterback, Scott Riddle, kept the Bulls off the scoreboard for the entire first quarter and Elon could have actually been in the lead as a muffed punt had Elon sitting on the Bulls 16 yard line. Two plays later George Selvie got the first of his record tying four sacks and consequently caused and recovered a Riddle fumble. Later in the quarter Elon drove to the Bulls 29 but missed the 45 yard field goal.

It wasn’t until Mike Ford made his first career catch (only the second time he touched the ball) that the Bulls were able to get off the doughnut. However with visions of Mountaineers dancing in their heads, Elon rolled right back down the field to the Bulls 20 and this time the Phoenix were able to convert on the field goal to pull within four. 7-3.

The third time Mike Ford touched the ball it was a rush, a long rush, a twenty yard run as a matter of fact and the only reason it wasn’t more than twenty yards was because he had found himself once again in the end zone. Once again Elon responded well, driving down the field, to once again be turned away from the end zone and having to settle on another field goal.

On the very next possession it seemed as now the Bulls had some momentum on offense. And it showed as other players got into the scoring party. Amarri Jackson, who had more drops than catches today, had a highlight moment with a 24 yard TD catch.

The fourth time that Mike Ford touched the ball it did not turn into a score; instead it was only a 48 yard scamper which arguably was called out at the 2 yard line. The fifth time Mike touched the ball did not turn into a touchdown either, but the sixth time was a charm. Mike Ford, who is not the starting tailback, touched the ball seven times and scored on three of those touches.

Elon got a late touchdown off the backups and then made it interesting again as they recovered an onside kick but were unable to capitalize.

Offensively “Golden Boy” was just ok. A pedestrian 23/39 for 238 yards with two touchdowns and an even more important no ints. Matt, always able to spread the ball well, connected with 10 different receivers.

The biggest change for Matt was that he only had 8 runs for 22 yards which is a reflection on the improvement in the running game that takes a load off what Grothe needs to do for the Bulls to be successful. The Bulls RBs gained 113 yards rushing led by Ford with 86.

The receiving corps, outside of Taurus Johnson, was weak. Dropped passes and poor routes were the soup de jour. Johnson led the way with 6 receptions for 59 yards. Perhaps Matt’s stats would have been superior had the receivers decided to show up for the game.

The defense was stellar. Over all Elon was sacked 6 times, 1 interception and 1 fumble recovery, both of the takeaways as Elon was driving deep in Bull territory. Elon threw the ball an amazing 55 times but only was able to amass 226 yards. Elon was only able to get 35 yards rushing.

#18 Auburn is next week. I doubt if any member of that Bull team, from Leavitt to that guy no one knows, thinks that the Bulls can win with a performance like the one they had today. Concern for improvement should not be an issue. You will see a more determined team next week. It may not make a difference in the outcome but this team has Auburn and then a bye week. There is nothing that this team will be focused on except Auburn. Don’t be surprised if Auburn is a two td favorite. Feel free to take the Bulls and the points.

Matt Richardson is a volunteer writer at SouthFloridaBulls.com

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