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GameDay: 3 Things to know as USF hosts East Carolina

Florida Football Insiders

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Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire
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The USF Bulls will celebrate their 20th season of existence with homecoming this afternoon against East Carolina. We already detailed the Bulls pulling out their “Gold Helmet 2.0” earlier in the week to mark the special occasion.

Now that Hurricane Matthew has passed Florida, the weather is tremendous and it will be an 85 degree humid day at Raymond James Stadium. Here are three other things to know/watch for this afternoon:

USF’s Marlon Mack became the Bulls all time leading rusher at 2,755 yards and counting in last Saturday nights romp at Cincinnati and is ready to roll on the Pirates D. Mack is averaging 6.7 yards per carry, had his second 100 yard game of the season and 15th of his career. Look for the Bulls to hand it to him repeatedly, especially if they get lead in the first half. ECU gave up nearly 7 yards per carry in their loss at home to UCF last week.

Talented ECU quarterback Phillip Nelson was knocked out the game with the Golden Knights last week with what is still a mysterious injury. He is listed as probable for today, but if he cannot play or is ineffective due to injury, then the Pirates will use JUCO transfer QB Gardner Minshew who didn’t do much after coming on last week at home.

Finally, the with the conference opening win last week, the Bulls have now won 7 of their last 8 AAC games going back to last year and with a very winable game at home with UConn next week, have a great chance to clearly establish themselves in early October in the Division.

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USF Bulls

Clemson offensive coordinator Jeff Scott about to get USF job?

Jamil King

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Joshua S. Kelly-USA TODAY Sports
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The USF coaching search appears that it might be close to concluding. This with Sunday night reports surfacing that the Bulls will reach a deal with Clemson co-offensive coordinator, Jeff Scott.

The website, The Clemson Insider reported Sunday night that Bulls athletic director Michael Kelly has tabbed the 38 year old Scott as his top target to replace Charlie Strong, who was fired a week ago:

After struggling on the offensive end, it was thought that the Bulls would pursue a coach with an offensive background. And Scott fits the bill.

The Bulls would be doing that if they land one of the men in charge of one of the most prolific offenses over the past few years in college football. Scott, his QB Trevor Lawrence and the Tigers destroyed Virginia in the ACC title game 62-17 Saturday night.

This appears to be a big hire for the Bulls and a bit unexpected. It is known that Clemson assistants don’t move often. Aside from former offensive coordinator, Chad Morris, all other assistants stay in Death Valley. This includes guys that have been highly targeted in Tony Elliot and Brent Venables.

Scott is Clemson through and through, as he played for the Tigers in the early 2000s for three years and returned to become a coach for the Tigers in 2008. Since then, he has been a receiver’s coach, recruiting coordinator, and now to co-offensive coordinator.

Something USF fans can be excited about is Scott’s successes with wide receivers. He has helped develop some great NFL prospects like DeAndre Hopkins, Sammy Watkins, and Mike Williams. He currently has one of the best groups in the country.

After years of the inconsistent offense, it appears that the Bulls leaders felt a change was needed.

Scott would bring knowledge of coaching from Clemson, as well as his stint as a high school coach. His father Brad, was also a coach in college, spending time as an offensive coordinator himself at Florida State, then onto South Carolina, and settling at Clemson.

Add all of this together, and the Bulls may just have “the next big thing” to come into the AAC and make an impact.

A conference that has springboarded coaches into Power 5 positions like Scott Frost two years ago to Nebraska and Memphis’ Mike Norvell to FSU Sunday. 

Without getting too far ahead, it appears the Bulls are going to make a strong assistant coach hire, who has the chance to make a great splash quickly.

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USF Bulls

USF fires head coach Charlie Strong

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
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It’s official… Charlie Strong has coached his final game as the USF head football coach. The news comes just two days after the Bulls humiliating 34-7 loss to rival UCF in the War on I-4 on Friday.

USA Today columnist Dan Wolken reported the news first Sunday afternoon and it’s been quickly confirmed by many other sources.

Strong was hired in December of 2016 after being let go from Texas. In his first year in Tampa, he went 10-2 in year one after inheriting a star-studded roster from former head coach Willie Taggart.

Since then, the Strong era has been anything but strong for the past season and a half. Their most recent loss to rival UCF was their fourth straight to end the year and Strong’s team limped to the finish line at 4 – 8. 

Strong entered the year with lots of speculation and it only grew worse when they opened the season with a humiliating 49 – 0 loss to Wisconsin. That led to a road loss at lowly Georgia Tech and being wiped out by SMU and Navy previously. Then, they were blown out at home by AAC west division champion, Memphis, 49-10 on senior day. And, that led to UCF ending their season with another rout Friday.

When you combine this season with losing the remaining six games a year ago, that’s 14 losses in the last 18 games played for Strong’s teams. Friday night was also the fifth loss by 27 points or more for USF this season.

After the game, Strong was asked whether he believed he would be back for a fourth year, to which he responded, “I have no idea.”

Since then, the media has been waiting to see if USF Athletic Director Michael Kelly, who was hired last year, would get rid of the former Texas and Louisville coach or give him one final shot to turn it around in 2020? It looks like he’s decided it would be better to start fresh and give fans something to be hopeful for heading into the off season.

Strong is reportedly owed at least $5 million for the remaining two years on his five-year deal that he agreed to in December of 2016.

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