It’s been just under a month — two games and a bye week —since a USF offensive player has been in the end zone.
Now, entering a Homecoming game against the 17th ranked offense in the nation, No. 20 Louisville, the need to score on offense is all the more important.
The Bulls last scored on offense with two seconds left in USF’s loss to Miami on Sept. 28.
The Bulls have found a way to win two straight conference games by other means — six field goals, two fumble returns for a touchdown and a blocked field goal.
USF offensive coordinator Walt Wells said it hasn’t been for a lack of trying.
“Nobody goes out with a game plan not to score touchdowns,” he said. “Once we get (the offense) and it starts rolling, I think we’ll be okay. It’s just one of those things where we’ve been snake bitten, but luckily the defense and special teams have bailed us out in the scoring game. Our guys are ready to get in the end zone and celebrate a little bit.”
And while USF’s defense has shown progress, allowing 53 points in Week 1 compared to 10 points to UConn during their last game, the Huskies aren’t Louisville.
Aside from Louisville’s 38-35 loss to UCF this past weekend, no team has scored more than 13 points against the Cardinals, and only two teams have scored 10 or more.
USF redshirt junior defensive tackle Todd Chandler said he was a bit upset at the loss, mainly because junior quarterback Teddy Bridgewater was on the losing end.
“I was really disappointed because I wanted to be there for his loss,” he said. “I wanted it to be South Florida to knock (Louisville) off.”
The Cardinals were ranked No. 8 in the nation at the time, but still pose a No. 3 defense heading into Saturday’s noon kickoff.
In Louisville’s only loss of the season, it seemed as if the Knights managed the 21-point comeback on the ground, putting up 196 yards and three touchdowns between two different running backs.
With senior running back Marcus Shaw, arguably USF’s biggest weapon on the team, still out with a hamstring injury, the Bulls may look to go three or four deep at the position, Wells said.
Redshirt junior Michael Pierre and redshirt sophomore Willie Davis look to be the favorites to lead the pack of backs with freshman Darius Tice still being an option.
While Louisville’s defense should prove to be a challenge for a struggling Bulls offense, the Cardinals offense won’t make the game any easier, being led by a Heisman candidate in Bridgewater.
Bridgewater is third in the nation in passing touchdowns, ninth in passing yards and does things that Wells said the USF quarterbacks should strive for while their defense should be wary of.
“He’s been in (Louisville’s) system for a while,” Wells said. “There are times when the clock is running down and he’s just as calm as can be. That’s a challenge for our defense and that’s what we’re looking for in our quarterbacks.”
With USF’s sophomore quarterback Steven Bench sitting out with a knee injury, the offense’s success mainly falls on the shoulders of senior Bobby Eveld, who said as long as the defense plays like they have been, then the offense can take care of the rest.
“We show bursts of very positive stuff,” Eveld said. “In the UConn game, we had two positive drives where we should have scored but fell short. It just shows us how much potential we really have so if we can be consistent on offense we’ll be just fine.”
Eveld and the Bulls play their third conference game Saturday as 21-point underdogs to the Cardinals.