As the College Bowl season rolls into it’s most important weekend, the USF Bulls get their moment in the spotlight and tangle with the SEC’s South Carolina Gamecocks this afternoon.
It’s been a tumultuous last few weeks for the Bulls program that has seen former coach Willie Taggart bolt for Oregon and ousted Texas head coach Charlie Strong replace him. With that as the primary backdrop, here are three things to watch:
Will the Bulls offense stil have its swagger?
In an historic offensive year, QB Quinton Flowers set the USF single season rushing and total yards from scrimmage records in 2016. And, since the Green and Gold’s final regular season romp over rival UCF, he’s now been named American Conference Offensive Player of the year. Flowers doesn’t have to do this alone, sensational RB Marlon Mack had seven 100 yard games this season and is the perfect compliment to Flowers in the Bulls “Gulf Coast” up tempo spread offense. USF scored at least 30 points in all 12 games this season. However, this is an SEC defense that they will face with a coach, Will Mushcamp, who’s previous teams at Auburn, Floirda (head coach) and befote that, Texas were all fast and aggressive on D.
Fun match-up to see if the Bulls can “track meet” the Gamecocks.
Speaking of Muschamp, how will they play?
Carolina won some games down the stretch, including an upset of Tennessee while the Vols were still alive to potentially win the SEC East, but they also got destroyed in the rivalry game with Clemson, 56-7 to end their season 6-6. The ‘Cocks offense has also been inept most of the year ranking below 115th in scoring and yards per game this season. A true freshman, Jake Bentley will lead them at QB. Another factor is whether Muschamp will have South Carolina “up” for this game emotionally. He is a volatile guy on the sidelines, but let’s be honest: this is clearly a lesser bowl that they are just fortunate to get into because Carolina is in a power conference and there are too many bowl games.
Motivated? Or, going through the motions? We’re about to find out.
Finally, does Strong keep current USF Co-Offensive Coordinator T.J. Weist?
Weist got the call, when Taggart left, to lead the Bulls in preparation and on game day for this Bowl. game And now, has a chance to showcase the aforementioned Bulls talent on offense to the new head coach. Is this truly an audition for Strong’s new staff? Who konws? But, if Flowers/Mack, etc. look great, it’s one more reinforcement to keep Weist who knows the program and players around. He also served previously as interim HC at UConn in 2013 and in a great tid bit of southern irony, is a former player under Ray Perkins and Bill Curry at Alabama, who played college games at Legion Field where today’s game will be played.
It will be cool temps with some possibility of bad weather, which may slow down the USF attack and benefit the “offensively challenged” Gamecocks. Stay tuned.