The USF football team has experienced only four winning seasons over the past decade, including in 2016 when the Bulls went 11-2 and defeated South Carolina 46-39 in the Birmingham Bowl.
Coach Jeff Scott wasn’t part of any of those teams, and in his first year as head coach, the Bulls struggled as they went 1-8. Despite the challenges that have presented themselves early in his tenure, he hopes to create a winning culture for current and incoming players moving forward.
The journey toward a consistently successful program starts by keeping his veteran players checked in, something he said has been quite simple so far.
“Right now, I don’t have to do anything because those guys are leading the way,” Scott said in a press conference Tuesday afternoon. “I think those guys have a lot of pride. I think they’re embarrassed about how their first three years have gone.”
If the players want to turn the football program around and reach the heights it once did, they have to pay attention to the small details in practice. Scott said his “vision” for the future of the team starts with commitment and accountability.
“Hopefully I’ve given them hope and a vision of how we’re going to change it,” Scott said. “It’s really just a daily commitment to the details, staying focused on all the little things, accountability and discipline and competing every single day.
“I’m really pleased where we are right now through 10 [spring] practices. Obviously, we still got a long way to go, but I feel very confident we’re going to show some real good improvement this coming season.”
One of the players who has stuck out to Scott in the first 10 practices is sophomore quarterback Jarren Williams who transferred from Miami in the offseason. Scott said Williams has improved the most of all quarterbacks from the first scrimmage March 6 to the latest one March 13.
“I would probably say Jarren Williams [has improved the most,” Scott said. “Jarren is a talented player obviously. He had the most to learn of all the quarterbacks coming in … I felt like the first week or so he was a little bit rusty and he wasn’t as clean as he wanted to be.
“I think he really took a big step in this second scrimmage on Saturday.”
Defensive tackle Blake Green said that last year’s team didn’t play to its full potential, but it was better than the record showed.
“That wasn’t us [last year]. We were better than what we displayed,” Green said. “We weren’t a 1-8 team. So we already knew, coming into the new season, that we’re going to show everybody the true team we are.”
Despite the 1-8 record, last season provided a key building block for Scott’s squad, including the ability to keep moving forward during adversity and challenges.
Scott said he is impressed to see his team work through those challenges and start the process of building a winning program.
“To have the adversity that we had last year, I’ve really been proud of the way our guys have come out of it,” Scott said. “The message I’ve had for the guys is, ‘Hey, the only group of people that can change it is the people in the locker room.’”