Quinton Flowers hasn’t skipped a beat
Last season junior quarterback Quinton Flowers busted onto the college football scene by leading the Bulls to their first bowl appearance in five years. In 2015, Flowers threw the ball for 2,296 yards and 22 touchdowns while also picking up 991 yards and 12 touchdowns on the ground, resulting in a record setting offensive effort for the Bulls.
This year Flowers is on pace to follow up last year with better numbers than previous; in fact, he’s averaging more touchdown passes per game and the number of rushing yards per game; but the biggest improvement has been his average number of passing yards per game. At this point last season Flowers had thrown 935 yards, averaging 155.3 yards per game. After this past game he has thrown for a total of 1,322 yards and averaged 220.3 yards per game.
The increase of an extra 65 yards per game may not seem like a significant number, but it helps account for the Bulls’ increase in points scored per game from 33.6 to 44.5. While there are other factors that account for the increase in Flower’s production —such as more weapons on the field and a full season of the ‘Gulf Coast offense’— the offense still runs through him; and with the increase in his production, the whole offense improves.
Marlon Mack’s name will be in the record books for awhile
Even with the increase of production from Flowers at quarterback, the Bulls are committed to the run. With the loss of senior running back Darius Tice, the rushing game is still the Bulls’ most effective attack. The Bulls accumulated 306 yards on the ground in their win over ECU, maintaining their dominance as a top 10 rushing offense.
There is no doubting junior running back Marlon Mack, after he broke the program’s career rushing record in the Bulls’ week five matchup against the Cincinnati Bearcats. Mack will continue to pile on top of that record as he keeps on pace to his third consecutive 1,000 yard season. Mack is also on pace to break his own single season record for rushing touchdowns.
This season Mack has already met the eight rushing touchdowns that he scored last year and is only one touchdown away from his personal single season record of nine touchdowns. He is actually on pace to break yet another program record —13 rushing touchdowns in a single season set by former running back Andre Hall— by scoring 20 touchdowns in the regular season.
The defense does have some concerns
The ‘Bull Shark’ defense was an impressive force to be reckoned with last season, accumulating 18 turnovers and holding opponents to a total of 4,223 yards for the season. In the Bulls’ 2016 campaign, the defense has managed 13 turnovers, but has surrendered 2,675 total yards already and is on track to give up 5,350 yards by the end of the season. The defense is also allowing opposing offenses to score six more points than they had in the previous season.
While the defense will try to repeat and improve on last season’s turnover ratio, they will need to give up less scoring plays. The defensive unit proved that it can hold its own in what was probably the biggest moment of the ECU game; the Pirates attempted to tie the game at 24 points on a two-point conversion with less than seven minutes left in the game. The Bulls managed to keep the Pirates from converting and were able to take the win.
There needs to be more discipline from the players
The lack of discipline that has been displayed by the team this season has resulted in 35 penalties which translates into 359 yards against the Bulls. Since week two of the season, USF has committed more penalties than their opponents, with the most recent game against ECU seeing the Bulls’ lose 101 yards on nine penalties.
One key moment in the ECU game was when the Bulls were within field goal distance for junior kicker Emilio Adelman. After USF committed two consecutive penalties, moving from the ECU 32 yard line to the ECU 45 yard line, the Bulls were forced to punt the ball.
USF head coach Willie Taggart has talked about making sure that the team focuses on the fundamentals and even addressed the concerning trend that has started to present itself after their last game. He will have to work with the team in the coming weeks to prevent the lack of discipline from becoming a larger issue than it already is.
The Bulls will take no prisoners and give no quarter
Taggart made his thoughts about running up the score clear on Saturday; if there is time still left on the clock, then his team will be playing football. With the Bulls having already taking a decisive, two score lead over the East Carolina Pirates, Taggart called for Flowers to throw the ball to end zone for another shot at padding on the score. Normally this would be a non-issue, but Taggart did this with the final seconds on the clock ticking down, breaking an apparent ‘unwritten rule’ of baseball football.
To some this would be an act of gloating, bullying or up-staging your opponent, but Taggart maintains that it was nothing more than his team playing until the last whistle is blown.
“We want to score. That’s our job on offense, right? What do you want us to do? We’re not taking a knee, we want to score," explained Taggart. "We want to be an explosive offense. When we have the ball, we want to score. That’s what I told our team this week, that’s our mentality that we want to be. We want to be in attack mode all the time…We wanted to score a touchdown there.”