By Alexander Eubanks
In what was a much closer game than the final score would indicate, the Bulls struggled throughout much of their game against Stony Brook before eventually taking control in the 4th quarter.
Starting the game off, it seemed as if USF might be able to control the game after a quick 3-and-out from Stony Brook ending in a big sack from #41, Greg Reaves. This lead to a huge punt return for USF that set them up at the opponents 35-yard line.
However, despite the stellar field position, the Bulls squandered their opening drive after failing to convert on 4th down when a Quinton Flowers rushing touchdown was overturned via instant replay.
This resulted in Stony Brook gaining control after a more successful drive that did not result in a score but did stuff the Bulls deep in their own territory. On USF’s very next drive, a punt was blocked and returned for a touchdown.
This gave Stone Brook a 7-0 lead.
But the Bulls started heating up after a good scoring drive highlighted by a 17-yard throw to Elkanah Dillon and Darius Tice punching it in from the 1-yard line.
The game was full of sloppy play, especially in the first half. This included three 3-and-outs from each team. Despite this, the Bulls’ defensive line played well and managed to hold the Seawolves to no rushing yards. They controlled the line of scrimmage and constantly applied pressure to the opposing team’s quarterback Joe Carbone, stopping him from settling into any rhythm.
Quinton Flowers was no exception to this sloppy play. He was terrible throughout much of the game, overthrowing his receivers constantly.
That all changed in the 4th. While they started the final quarter with a 17-10 lead, the Bulls quickly relinquished it, allowing a 54-yard run from Stony Brook running back Stacey Bedell, who tied the game with the rushing touchdown.
Flowers finally started heating up.
He threw an absolute dime to Tyre McCants who stiff-armed a defender on the way to a 65-yard touchdown.
The drive was only four plays.
All of a sudden the game had a completely different feel to it.
With two and a half minutes to go, the Seawolves had a bad interception and USF quickly converted.
All of a sudden it was 31-17. The game was essentially over at this point. Stony Brook struggled to complete passes on their desperation drive and one last interception officially ended the game and put them out of their misery.
While the Bulls finished with a 31-17 victory, the game did not look good to those watching. Voters in the polls are likely to hold this game against USF next week and we could see a drop in rankings.
Coming in at 16, I would be surprised if they hold onto their spot in the standings. It genuinely wouldn’t shock me if we dropped out of the top 25 after that performance, despite the win.
They have now struggled in back-to-back weeks against low-level opponents who they were expected to crush. That’s not a good look.
A change in focus is needed next week as USF starts AAC competition against the University of Connecticut Huskies. Charlie Strong needs to prove that what happened in Texas isn’t a display of his real coaching abilities and that he can go back to being an upper-level coach in the world of college football.
Flowers is also going to need to change his level of play quickly and return to last season’s form or else he might drop out of the Heisman watch completely.
While the Bulls are starting AAC play at 2-0, they certainly have left a lot to be desired. For a team that is supposed to be a contender for a New Year’s Six Bowl, their level of play has been disappointing so far.