Commentary | USF takes one step forward, two steps back against Memphis

adell@bradenton.comNovember 17, 2013 

TAMPA

There are two good things about going to USF football games.

You don't have to worry about traffic jams, and you can be assured there will be plenty of empty seats on the 50.

It's hard on the eyes.

USF is not very good.

Well, we all knew that didn't we?

It's just that we thought the Bulls were getting better.

They had a new quarterback, new energy and an offense that would strike some fear into defenses.

But USF's 23-10 loss to Memphis on Saturday painted a bleak picture.

Quarterback Mike White was picked off twice after the Bulls fell behind 13-3, and Memphis turned those into 10 more points.

He had four interceptions, but the freshman was put into some rough situations, being asked to complete so many third-and-longs because of the Bulls' insistence on trying to run the ball.

It wasn't the final score that had you looking for your Rolaids or tummy drops. It was everything else.

The Bulls only trailed 6-3 when Memphis finally punched in a touchdown with 4:02 left in the game.

So call it 13-3 and end it

there. It doesn't matter.

The final stats are misleading on both sides.

Memphis (3-7) is supposed to have a good defense, but the only FBS team the Tigers beat was Arkansas State.

All the hope that sprung up in USF's loss to Houston now needs a reseeding.

USF head coach Willie Taggart has to take some blame for this, no matter how much folks around here adore him.

USF had a second-and-goal at the Memphis 1 in the second quarter and trailed 3-0. The Bulls decided to give the ball to upback Lawrence Martin, who is listed as an offensive lineman.

It was Martin's first carry of the season, maybe his career.

Who knows? Who cares?

He did what you would expect from someone in his position. Martin fumbled the ball, and Memphis recovered.

Taggart made no apologies for the play, saying it was in the playbook.

The Bulls didn't smell the end zone again until the game was decided.

Taggart needs to show his offensive line he believes in them and heck it's only second down. Try to jam it down Memphis' throat. You've got Willie Davis, a bulwark that reminds you of Mike Tolbert, the Carolina Panthers' touchdown machine.

If you don't make it on second down, let White throw it. He showed he could hit that short red-zone pass against Houston.

But a gimmick play with a guy who hasn't carried the ball all year? It set a bad tone for the rest of the game.

White didn't have a good game, but he was put in many bad situations. There wasn't much play-action. The Bulls ran the ball nine times on their first 12 first down opportunities.

USF played it awfully conservative until the score got of hand.

Look, this team is 2-7 with three games left. There is no need to play it so close to the vest on offense.

It doesn't matter if you finish 2-10 or 3-9.

See what White can do. Strike some fear into opponents, make them pay for stuffing the box.

There was more though.

When the Bulls trailed 6-3 in the third quarter, they had to start from their own 1 because their punt returner decided not catch the ball and let it roll. On the next punt, Andre Davis caught it at the 7 and fell down.

The defense had Memphis backed up inside its own 6 twice and let the Tigers get first downs, the last time on a second-and-14 from their own 4.

It was ugly.

The good news is a lot of freshman played again. But you want to see improvement.

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reachedat 941-745-7056. Follow him on Twitter at@ADellSports.

Bradenton Herald is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service