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Quarterback Quinton Flowers has led the growth by USF

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When he started, he was a question mark. Lately, Quinton Flowers has been an exclamation point.

He has grown up, and he assumed the leadership role of the USF team. These days, he is a force, and to stop the Bulls, you have to stop him.

Consider the last four games by Flowers. No interceptions. Three victories. And a team that seems to be coming into its own.

You can hardly remember Flowers (one start, and he was pulled) in the beginning of the year. He was talented, but he was tentative. But as the Bulls have progressed, so too has Flowers.

Against SMU, he had only 90 yards passing (six drops), but he had 201 yards rushing.

Against Navy, his passing efficiency was 147.36 as he threw for 208 yards.

Against East Carolina, his passing efficiency rose to 153.91. He threw for 200 and ran for 79.

Against Temple, his passing efficiency was 186.00. He threw for 230 and ran for 90.

Now comes Cincinnati, a team that dares you to keep up with it. The Bearcats can score, but an opposing offense can find the end zone. Cincinnati has given up more than 50 twice and more than 30 six times.

In all, Flowers has won six out of seven games, and the Bulls’ offense has clicked. Flowers has Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams making plays behind him and a solid offensive line.

Still, Flowers is a different style of quarterback than Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel, a dangerous thrower. Kiel does have eight interceptions, however.

Defensively, things will be tougher for USF in its Friday night game. Cincinnati has the fourth-ranked offense in the country, which means that Jamie Byrd and company will have to do a lot of chasing. Cincinnati doesn’t have a bad running game with a committee of Mike Boone (633 yards), Hosey Willaims (628) and Tion Greene (620).

The Bulls have more to play for, with a shot at the AAC title if it wins out and Temple loses a game.

Game time is 8 p.m.

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 garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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