USF’s challenging 2020 season has officially come to a close after a 58-46 loss in its annual War on I-4 matchup versus the UCF Knights.
“We knew going into this game that this would be our last game of the season,” coach Jeff Scott said in his postgame press conference.
He explained that USF Director of Athletics Michael Kelly had been in contact with Florida Atlantic and Navy, but it was decided that the earlier postponed games could not be made up this year due to scheduling complications.
The final game of the year for the Bulls was a roller coaster of emotions, but it showed a lot about the kinds of players they have.
McCloud has career day
All season long it seemed as if the quarterback position was a giant question mark for the Bulls.
Signal callers were cycled in and out from series to series — Noah Johnson was made unavailable after a promising performance against Memphis, a shoulder injury sidelined Cade Fortin just as he was trending upward and Katravis Marsh battled injury as well.
It was a carousel that just kept spinning.
Consequently, expectations for quarterback play against the Knights were low. Truthfully, expectations for the Bulls as a team were low.
Jordan McCloud exceeded those low expectations and much more.
The sophomore quarterback had the best game of his career as he went 32-of-46 for 404 yards and four touchdowns. He also added a rushing score in the third quarter.
Perhaps the most impressive part of his day was what he didn’t do.
Putting the ball in the air 46 times is almost asking for interceptions. However, McCloud took care of the ball and did not throw a single pick.
Regardless of how the rest of the season has gone, fans must tip their hats to the sophomore quarterback for his performance Friday.
Offense shines despite loss
Offensive fireworks were of no shortage for either team in this shootout. The two offenses combined for 1,233 yards, 14 touchdowns and 174 total plays.
The running back duo of Brian Battie and Kelley Joiner combined for 218 yards, with each getting over the century mark.
Bryce Miller and DeVontres Dukes led the way for receivers as each hauled in two touchdowns. Miller paced the team with 121 receiving yards.
Other receivers who played well include Randall St. Felix, Xavier Weaver, and Latrell Williams, each of whom had 45-plus receiving yards.
USF arguably had its best game of the season on offense.
Dwayne Boyles impresses
Linebacker Dwayne Boyles had his best game of the season Friday.
The junior from Miami had a season-high 13 tackles, two tackles for loss and made his first career interception with about 11 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.
That pick came at a time when the Bulls were desperate for a defensive stop. The Knights had scored on the prior two drives, and USF had just cut the deficit to 14 points.
Boyles was in coverage along the Bulls sideline, and UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel sent his pass to receiver Jacob Harris, but it was undercut by Boyles who secured the turnover.
Not only was it a great play, but it was a great play against a quarterback who rarely turns the ball over. That was just Gabriel’s fourth pick of the season through nine games.
No quit in the Bulls
Scott has spoken all year about how his team has “uncommon” reactions in difficult situations, how the team shows fight no matter the circumstances.
That claim was never more true than against the Knights.
USF found itself trailing by as many as 21 points, and not once did it seem like the Bulls were going to give up.
This was a 1-7 team that had nothing to play for except pride, and it could have easily rolled over.
However, the team did the opposite and seemed to play its heart out and leave it all on the field.
There’s not much else you can ask for at that point.
Of course, eventually wins are going to have to come, but seeing this level of competitiveness in the first year of a new head coach under these circumstances is incredibly encouraging for the future of this program under Scott.