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USF used late defense for dramatic win over BYU

Florida Football Insiders

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Douglas DeFelice-USA TODAY Sports
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In a matter of just two games, the USF Bulls have turned their season’s bleak looking fortunes around,  as Saturday they held off a tough BYU team not once, but twice, in the waning moments with defense.

The Cougars had the ball inside the ball inside South Florida’s 20 yard line down by four points two different times in the last 2:30 only to have Charlie Strong’s bunch hang on for a clutch victory. And, that now gives them momentum headed into the second half of the season.

Yes, running back Jordan Cronkrite ran with authority for 158 yards on 26 carries and two second-half touchdowns, as usf rallied from a 23-14 third quarter deficit to take a 27-23 lead with 7 minutes remaining.

But, the Green and Gold would need their defense to stymie BYU and to preserve the lead of less than one touchdown

And, the Cougars look like they were going to get that touchdown, as backup quarterback Baylor Romney drove them to the USF 8 yard line.

But, that’s when the Bulls stuffed running back Aleva Hifo for a 2 yard loss on third down, it brought up a second guessers delight coaching decision.

That’s when BYU boss Kelani Sitake decided not to kick a field goal, despite having all three of his time outs left and it would have put his team within one point.

Instead, they went for the first down and potential winning TD. But, the QB Romney completed a pass to his brother WR Gunner Romney for just 5 yards with USF keeping him two yards short and the Bulls took over possession.

The Cougars defense did their job and they used their three time outs to get the ball back one final time.

Again, Rowney completed a couple of key passes and the Bulls were guilty of a 15 yard pass interference  penalty, which set BYU up with first and ten at the USF 12 yard line with less than :30 to go.

But, once again, the Bulls got a big sack on third down from Antonio Grier and then, Romney’s desperation pass to the end zone on the final play of the game was batted down by defensive back Devin Studstill to end it:

As the ball fell to the earth, the Bulls rushed the field, celebrating wildly having evened their record at 3-3. They deserved to celebrate.

Just two weeks ago, we wrote that they were humiliated at home by conference opponent SMU and that coach Charlie Strong was clearly in trouble with a 1-in 3 start with 2 blowout losses and having lost 9 of 10 games dating back to 2018.

Credit the Bulls, as they responded with an impressive win against UConn last Saturday. However, that came against the Huskies who are awful. So, most fans of the program and observers wanted to see USF validate things on Saturday.

And, because BYU had already won earlier this season at Tennessee and beaten USC at home, this was a confidence builder. A large one.

Yes, Strong’s team played with heart and out-executed their opponents from Provo, Utah.

And now, the Bulls have a chance to get back above .500 to start the second half of the season, when they play at Navy next week

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USF Bulls

USF QB Barnett undergoing season ending surgery

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Barnett’s wild college career may be coming to an unfortunate end, sooner than expected. Multiple sources have reported that his ankle injury will require surgery that will keep him out the the remainder of this season.

Bay News 9 Tampa Bay reporter Chris Torello broke the news Thursday night.

It’s also been confirmed by Bulls beat reporter, Joey Knight.

Barnett suffered the injury in the Bulls Week 5 game against SMU. Last week, USF head coach Charlie Strong said that Barnett would not be available for the Bulls’ game vs. BYU and would meet with doctors to re-evaluate the injury. Unfortunately, the news was not good for the 23 year old, veteran quarterback.

Out of high school, he was heavily recruited and landed on Alabama’s roster as the starter before being quickly beat out by freshman Jalen Hurts. From there, he spent a season at Arizona State before transferring again to South Florida where he was named QB1.

In his first season with the Bulls, Barnett threw for 2,705 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions in 11 games, missing two crucial conference games with injury. He led them to a strong 7-0 start to the year before the team fizzled out on a 0-6 losing streak to end the season.

His second season in Tampa started off rockier when began the year with a 49-0 shutout against Wisconsin. It didn’t get much better as the Bulls found themselves with a 1-3 record in their first four games. In 2019, Barnett threw for 434 yards, four touchdowns, and two interceptions.

Jordan McCloud, who is still nursing a shoulder injury, will continue to start for USF, with sophomore Kirk Rygol now at backup with Barnett down for the season. OC Kerwin Bell confirmed on Wednesday that McCloud should be ready to play by Saturday in their matchup with Navy.

As for Barnett, it is still up in the air as to whether this will be his final season as a college quarterback. Because he’s only played in four games this season, he could attempt to take a medical redshirt after already using his regular redshirt. However, he’s already been to quite a few programs, so it’s possible that he may just elect to end his college career.

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Former USF QB Quinton Flowers returns to Tampa in XFL

Abbey Radeka

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Next February, the XFL Football League will reemerge in its reformed version by Vince McMahon. On Tuesday, the league’s eight teams were making preparation’s with a draft of players. And, this includes the Tampa Bay franchise, The Vipers, who in the 5th round, selected former USF Bulls quarterback, Quinton Flowers. 

Even though his previous seasons in Tampa have been spent under center, he has been selected as a running back for the Vipers.

 

We wrote previously, that a local high school and SEC star, Aaron Murray was given to them as their starting Quarterback.

Murray has ties to the Tampa Bay area, as a native who led Plant High School to a State Football Championship. He’s also the Southeastern Conference all-time leader in completions passing yards and passing touchdowns in a career.

Murray briefly was with the Kansas City Chiefs, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles from 2014-16.

He was last seen quarterbacking earlier this year in the now-defunct Alliance of American football with the Atlanta Legends (above) franchise. They selected Murray for the same regional interest of him having played college ball down the road in Athens, Georgia.

As for Flowers, in his time at USF he threw for 8,124 yards, 71 TDs and 23 INTs while also rushing for 3672 yards and 41 TDs.

Though he had a record-breaking career at USF (he owned or shared 34 school records), there was lots of debate about the dual-threat’s quarterback to succeed professionally.  Flowers was dominant as a run-heavy QB, and he became #1 in the schools career rushing attempts, career rush yards, single season rush yards, rush yards and attempts by a quarterback, rushing touchdowns in a season, career rushing touchdowns, and yards per rush in a season.

Many scouts felt as though he needed to consider a position change from quarterback if he hopes to succeed in the NFL, which ended up happening when he was signed by the Cincinnati Bengals, as an undrafted free agent in 2018 as a running back. After being waived the following summer, the Colts signed him to the practice squad, but then released him six days later.

Now, in the second ever XFL Draft, Flowers went number 37 overall, is returning to not only the same city, but same stadium that he took four years of snaps in during college.

The XFL have continued to fill out rosters in the Tuesday draft, with numerous players from Florida or Florida schools working out regionally for all of the clubs.

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