Though it was a lightening delay that pushed back kickoff between Michigan State and USF Saturday at noon, both offenses were far from electric in the Bulls’ (0-2) 21-6 loss at Spartan Stadium.
USF’s offense took the field first, led by senior quarterback Bobby Eveld, though redshirt sophomore Matt Floyd stepped onto the field as one of the captains for the coin toss.
By the end of the first quarter, USF’s offense had one first down out of four drives, each which ended in a punt.
The Spartans (2-0) didn’t look much better, punting three out of four drives, one of which ended with a fumble that gave life to the seemingly stagnant Bulls.
About 10 minutes into the game, redshirt senior Julius Forte sacked MSU’s sophomore Connor Cook, who fumbled. Redshirt junior defensive tackle Todd Chandler managed to scoop up the ball for the Bulls, who failed to
capitalize on the following drive.
“We just didn’t get it done offensively and you’ve got to take advantage of opportunities,” USF coach Willie Taggart said. “We had plenty of
opportunities offensively. We didn’t take advantage of those opportunities. We had dropped balls. When we were moving the ball, we had false starts, and that got us off schedule. You can’t do that. That’s not winning football.”
Forte finished with two forced fumbles, one on a punt while USF senior linebacker DeDe Lattimore made sure he was everywhere on the field as well, leading the Bulls in tackles with 15.
It was defense that set the tone in a game that featured five different quarterbacks.
In addition to Eveld, who finished the day 6-of-25 for 65 yards and an interception, sophomore Steven Bench stepped in for a drive going 0-of-1 through the air.
While the Bulls stayed consistent in having Eveld behind center, the Spartans seemed uneasy with each quarterback. Cook, senior Andrew Maxwell and freshman Tyler O’Connor were all featured on the offense and combined for a total 94 yards going 12-of-24.
Though the Bulls’ defense made improvements from last week, allowing only 265 yards of total offense and one touchdown Saturday, MSU’s defense scored 14 points for the Spartans.
USF turned the ball over twice, and the Spartans scored each time.
MSU sophomore defensive end Shilique Calhoun is who put up the Spartans’ points, once off an Eveld fumble early in the
second quarter and another off an Eveld interception in the third.
Calhoun and the defense proved to be the Spartans’ best offense. The sophomore has three touchdowns on the season in just two games.
“They’re smart, they’re strong, they’re long, they’re well coached and they’ve got some good players over there on that side of the ball,” Taggart said. “Those guys play with fanatical effort, (which is) what we keep preaching to our defense.”
Similar to MSU’s season opener, the only offensive touchdown of the game was scored by the Spartans on a goal-line run. By then, USF was already trailing 14-6 early in the fourth quarter after USF redshirt junior Marvin Kloss put the Bulls on the board with two field goals, one being a 49-yarder.
Even USF senior running back Marcus Shaw, who had a personal best of 23 carries, couldn’t ignite the Bulls as he did in week one’s loss to McNeese State, finishing with 94 yards and no fumbles — he entered the stadium, football in hand, just as he exited after last week’s performance.
“I thought our guys did better and we talked about that this week,” Taggart said. “We want improvement and we want to play with attitude, and I thought our guys did that. I thought offensively we didn’t improve. I thought defensively we did. I still think we can execute a lot better and put on a better show than we did.”
Now, after debuting their season 0-2, the Bulls kick off with FAU (0-2) at 7 p.m. Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, where each team will look for its first win of the season.