Bulls Offense Fades vs. Memphis, 24-17

Despite containing the potent Memphis offense, 17 points was not enough for USF to secure a Friday night victory.

Final Score: Memphis (5-0, 2-0) 24, South Florida (1-3, 0-1) 17

Time of Possession: MEM- 30:32 USF- 29:28

Time of Game: 3 Hours, 10 minutes

Announced Attendance: 22,546

Notable Stats:

-Quinton Flowers: 17/26, 199 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

-Marlon Mack: 20 carries, 107 yards. Sixth 100+ yard game in USF career.

-D’Ernest Johnson: 4 receptions, 30 yards. Continues to lead USF offense in receiving.

-Auggie Sanchez: 12 tackles (8 solo). Career high in tackles, continues to lead team.

-MEM QB Paxton Lynch: 20/33, 305 yards, 2 TDs. Set career highs in passing previous three contests.

-MEM FS Reggis Ball: 8 tackles, 1 INT. Late 4th qtr INT secured victory for Tigers.

-USF 2/13 on 3rd down. Entered game 124th in 3rd down conversions.

-Lowest offensive output for Memphis of the season. Tigers off to best start of the season since 1961.

Random Factoid: Love USF dancing to/playing “Swag Surfin’” by the Fast Life Yungstas on every kickoff.

Next game for both teams: -Memphis: 10/17 at home vs. Ole Miss. (Potential ESPN College Gameday location) -USF: 10/10 at home vs. Syracuse. (Homecoming)

The Story

Entering a Friday night showdown with a Memphis team many have pegged as a New Year’s Six bowl contender, South Florida came out the gate looking as aggressive as they have all season on offense, racking up 162 yards on their first two drives and quickly taking a 10-0 first quarter lead. A 95-yard opening drive resulted in a one yard Darius Tice TD run, while a 31-yard Emilio Nadelman FG boosted their lead to two scores.

But as has been the case for seemingly years now, Bulls offense stalled for the remainder of the game. Their nation low struggles in converting on 3rd down would continue as Willie Taggart’s offense would punt on their next seven drives, not scoring again until a late 23 yard Elkanah Dillon TD reception would bring the Bulls within a touchdown late in the fourth. Taggart’s conservative play calling continues to come into question, particularly in a third quarter scenario where the Bulls, on their own 46, elected to punt on fourth and one instead of taking a shot. The ensuing Tiger drive would lead to the go ahead score for Memphis as they never looked back. “I should’ve thrown the ball more,” Taggart said after the loss. “There’s some things I would take back and wish I could’ve done better. I told our team I put that one on me, I could’ve done some things better to help them in that game, but that’s hindsight.”

For Justin Fuente’s Memphis squad, while not quite a 53-46 like they experienced last week, they were able to take advantage of South Florida stalling throughout the game enough to secure their fifth victory of the season. Despite being harassed by Tom Allen’s Bull Sharks and trailing at halftime, dynamic QB Paxton Lynch powered through with a three yard TD run in the 3rd quarter to take a lead and a 55 yard TD pass to Doroland Dorceus to seal it.

The Aftermath

South Florida is now at a critical venture of their season. Sitting at 1-3 with a conference loss already on their resumes, fortunes could potentially turn south for the Bulls fast given their history of fading away in the month of October. Given the implications and consequences of losing, next Saturday’s homecoming matchup with Syracuse is being viewed by many as not just the hinging point of the season, but the turning point of Taggart’s tenure at USF.

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