USF vs PITT: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

The stage was set for USF to take a step towards a BIG EAST title against PITT on Thursday. Instead, the Bulls were outplayed in most aspects of the game, and soundly at that. After looking over the carnage, USFNation reviews the game and offers a look back at what went right, wrong, and what was just plain ugly. There weren't many, but there were a few positives to take out of the game

USF vs PITT: The Good, Bad & the Ugly

What went right?

The Bulls offense had success moving the ball on the ground, gaining 202 yards on 38 carries with 5.3 yards per carry average. Both running backs averaged over 6 yards per carry with junior Darrell Scott provided solid power runs, carrying the ball 12 times for 76 yards, but did lose a fumble in the fourth. Not to be outdone was junior Demetris Murray, who rushed for 67 yards on 10 carries with a TD and provided USF a spark when they needed it. Quarterback B.J. Daniels had over 300 yards of offense with a score and committed no turnovers as the Bulls put up 425 yards of total offense and kept pace with PITT during the first half and only trailed 17-20 at the intermission.

What went wrong?

The USF defense was unable to get PITT off the field when it counted. The Panthers racked up 523 yards of offense on 91 plays and held a 12.40 minute time-of-possession advantage over the Bulls. Pitt won the battle in the trenches as Ray Graham ran rough shot over the USF defense with 227 yards and a blistering 8.7 yards per carry average. The USF defense made things easy on PITT QB Tino Sunseri early on by not causing pressure and allowed him to gain confidence and escape the pocket. There were also a few other defensive breakdowns, such as poorly timed penalties and missed tackles, especially on third downs that allowed the PITT to sustain drives and score.

On the other side of the ball, USF was once unable to generate much offense through the air when they need it most. QB B.J. Daniels went 18 of 36 for 223 yards, but the Bulls struggled with third down conversions in the second half. Every time the Bulls had some momentum in the second half, once again untimely penalties and turnovers doomed any drives and momentum they gained.

The good, the bad and the ugly…

The Good was obviously the play of running back Darrell Scott, who had carried the ball 12 times for 76 yards and moved the pile with strong power running.

The Good was the running of back Demetris Murray, who had 67 yards on 10 carries and showed some nifty moves as he sliced through the line for big gains when the Bulls really needed it.

The Good was the play of wide receiver Sterling Griffin, who led the team with five catches for 109 yards and showed he's the best USF receiver on the field.

The Good was the QB B.J. Daniels, who had 223 yards passing with 43 yards on the ground and a rushing TD. His rushing total would have been better except for the -36 yards lost. Most importantly he didn't turn the ball over and wasn't the reason for the loss.

The Good was defensive tackle Elkino Watson, who led the d-line with eight tackles, registered his first sack, had a QB hit, and also two tackles for loss. The true freshman now leads the team with 6.5 TFLs.

The Good was the play of the offensive line, especially on running situations, they also only gave up two sacks.

The Good was the play of corner Kayvon Webster, who led the secondary with seven tackles and also forced a fumble, and was solid all night.
The Good was the forced fumble on the first drive by defensive end Ryne Giddins that stopped a drive and led to the Bulls first TD. Giddins also pressured the QB and finished with 3 tackles and 1 TFL.
The Good was the play of defensive end Julius Forte, who used his athleticism to cause pressure and bat down a pass.
The Good was the overall play of the special teams return coverage, which rebounded after last week and didn't allow any big returns (Not that Pitt had many opportunities) and Maikon Bonani hit his only attempt for a 34-yard field goal.

The Good was the first half where the Bulls kept it close, especially the first scoring drive, and then retaking the lead 14-13, then going into the half only trailing by three points.

The Bad was getting allowing 523 yards of total offense and getting out first-downed 32-23.
The Bad was the defense's inability to get off the field on third down and allowing PITT's offense to go 9 of 16 on third down.

The Bad was the many dropped passes that could have gone for long gains and put the Bulls in too many third and longs.
The Bad was six penalties for 50 yards, the worst being a couple of drive-killers.
The Bad was two untimely turnovers which stopped to scoring opportunities when they were badly needed.

The Bad was missing tackles on running plays or after the catch.
The Bad was giving up two sacks.
The Bad was the defensive front's inability to rush the passer when the needed to.
The Bad was the coverage on the back-end of the defense.
The Bad was the Bulls return game, a position that was a bright spot. They couldn't generate any spark, and couldn't come up with a fumble recovery when they really needed to.
The Bad was the overall coverage by the Bulls defense, which were overly cautious and soft for much of the game.

The Ugly was allowing running back Ray Graham to gash them for 227 rushing yards, with 8.7 yards per carry average, and be a weapon in the passing game. The Bulls defense had no answer on how to contain him.

The Ugly was never really getting any rhythm on defense with play calling that allowed Tino Sunseri to do whatever he wanted to do on the field.

The Ugly was allowing PITT to extended drives early with converting 10 of their first 13 third downs,

The Ugly was only forcing PITT to punt twice, both being late in the game.

The Ugly was allowing Mike Shanahan to run free most of the night, he had 4 catches for 42 yards, but if it weren't for at least three drops his day would've been bigger.

The Ugly was losing their receiver A.J. Love, right after he made his first catch of the game.

The Ugly was the several of the young receivers looking out of sync with Daniels, running wrong routes, braking off routes, dropping passes, and showing lots of confusion.

The Ugly was the entire second half, where the Bulls halftime adjustments looked nonexistent, from the offense's opening drive to the defensive performance.

The Ugly was the Bulls continuing the trend of losing another Thursday night nationally televised game, with this one being one of the worst.

Final Analysis:

This game is pretty simple to analyze. USF was simply overmatched in most phases of the game, and needed a great performance to stay in the contest. They lost the battle of the trenches, couldn't make a stop when they needed to and ended up getting blown out. The defense was subpar for the second week in a row, and made the Sunseri and the PITT offense look ‘high octane' and Ray Graham look like a Heisman candidate.

Offensively, The Bulls started out great, and were running with authority, but abandoned the run to soon, and penalties and turnovers caused them to have trouble finishing drives to put points on the board. The Panthers are a very good defensive team, but they aren't that good, and the bulls could have, should have done better

Looking Ahead:

USF will need to recover quickly from this loss, but with a bye week, they won't be able to get back in the winners column for at least two weeks. The good news is it's only one loss and the conference slate is a long one and many things can still happen. The bye week will give the Bulls coaching staff extra time to fix the problems on defense, as well as sure up the offense, and rebuild the team's confidence going forward.

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