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Offense sputters in USF’s defeat at the hands of Memphis

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The defense of the South Florida Bulls can feel pretty good despite a defeat this morning.

They gave up 24 to a team that is averaging 53.6. They at least slowed a high-powered Memphis team down. They entertained the thought of beating the undefeated Tigers.

The offense?

Maybe the Bulls of Willie Taggart don’t want to talk as much about that.

The Bulls fell to 1-3 on the season, losing a 24-17 decision to the  Tigers on a night when the USF offense could not play well enough to take advantage of a 10-point head start.

USF threw the ball 10 times over the first three quarters, a paltry amount even for a team that considers itself a running team. Now consider this: In Memphis’ last game, it gave up 620 yards passing, leading to the suspicion that Memphis has no idea what to do when the opponents throw the ball. It is the secondary that is the reason the Tigers are 104th in the nation on defense. The Tigers were 89th in the country in points allowed.

As for the Bulls, they tried to run off-tackle.

Memphis has been much, much better when teams try to run this year. The Tigers are 34th in the country. Which means, in short, that USF’s game plan played right into their hands. Again, you would expect USF to lean toward running the ball – that’s what they do – but USF threw four times in the first quarter, three in the second and three in the third as the Tigers took over the game.

“In hindsight, I’d like to do a lot more, especially from a play-calling standpoint in the third quarter,” said Bulls’ head coach Taggart. “We probably could have loosened the defense up a little bit to help us run the ball a little more.”

In the final quarter, Taggart finally decided to throw the ball a bit. Quarterback Quinton Flowers threw 16 times, completing 10 for 104 yards and a touchdown. Maybe if the Bulls had tried it a bit earlier, it would have helped.

In the fourth period, for instance, USF had a third-and-one at the Memphis 44. It tried to run the ball. Nothing. It tried again. Nothing.

It all makes Taggart wish he had thrown more.

“I would have,” Taggart said. “There are some things I would take back and wish we could have done better. I told our team to put that one on me. I could have done some things better too help them in that game. That’s hindsight . We’ll get better.”

The Bulls travel to Syracuse next week.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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