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Third-down efficiency a major issue

Though most of the criticism of USF’s loss to Pittsburgh last week was directed toward the Bulls’ defense, players and coaches on the offensive side of the ball said they also made mistakes.

“Third down(s) (in the) second half (were) a major issue in the game. We had a few more minus yardage plays overall than we usually had,” offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. “Two of them were sacks on early downs, one was a blitz, (another) a guy got beat on a play-action pass. There were some positives, but the production wasn’t there at the end. You’ve got to score more points.”

USF redshirt junior quarterback B.J. Daniels said the whole team is embracing the bye week, realizing that the open date gives them a chance to correct certain mistakes, including the third down woes Fitch mentioned.

“The second half, on third downs, we really didn’t convert a lot and as well as we wanted to meet our goals,” he said. “So those definitely were some key areas that we’re looking at.”

After Wednesday’s practice, Daniels said he noticed the team’s attitude shift from a somber one Tuesday to a more energetic one Wednesday.

“A lot of guys flying around, offense talking trash to the defense, we’re all getting at each other. It’s all in good fun,” he said. “I enjoyed practice today. If you can definitely practice at this high energy, then the games would be so much easier.”

Frosh Watson shines

Overshadowed by the defensive performance put in last week is the play of true freshman defensive tackle Elkino Watson. The Miami native had eight tackles against Pittsburgh, including two for a loss, and his first career sack. He leads the Bulls with 6.5 tackles for loss.

“I just go out there and practice hard,” Watson said. “Sometimes you roll over to the game, (so) if you have a good practice, you’ll have a good game, so everything’s been kicking for me lately. Every true freshman has the dream to come make an impact at the college level. Overall, if you don’t put in the work, that’s not going to happen.”

Watson said that USF defensive tackles coach Kevin Patrick has told him not to settle for the success he has had thus far and continue to push himself throughout the season.

“(He told me), ‘Don’t quit,’ just keep working on my fundamentals and get better every day,” Watson said. “Don’t try to settle for less, just get better.”