USF narrowly avoided losing by the largest margin in program history against North Carolina State at Raymond James Stadium when they were defeated 49-17 on Saturday.
Aside from a 75-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Mike White to freshman wide receiver Ryeshene Bronson, USF (1-2) was able to accumulate only 159 yards of offense.
The Bulls were held in check in whichever offensive attack they attempted. White was ineffective in the passing game, going 4-for-16 and only connecting with three receivers for positive yardage.
“We answered pretty well in the first quarter with that touchdown to Bronson, but we just didn’t seem to click at the same time,” White said. “That’s the most frustrating thing, knowing that this offense is better.”
Despite taking three sacks and several hard hits in the game, White said his fractured forearm felt fine and he remains the starting quarterback for USF.
The Bulls elected to burn the redshirt of freshman quarterback Quinton Flowers mid-way through the first quarter. He finished the day with 32 yards on six carries in his first collegiate game, but threw two interceptions, including one on his first collegiate attempt.
“He doesn’t want to sit on the bench,” White said. “That’s not what he came to USF to do. He’s an explosive player and a versatile athlete. We’re going to keep using him. He’s too good of an athlete not to use.”
Freshman running back Marlon Mack was limited by the Wolfpack as well. He ran for 51 of USF’s 94 rushing yards on 12 carries and wasn’t able to score.
“I’m more alarmed with the offense (than the defense),” coach Willie Taggart said. “If we get some first downs and are physical up front and run the football, our defense isn’t on the field as much. If there’s anything I’m disappointed in, it’s not running the ball like I know we’re capable of.”
The USF defense, which forced six turnovers last week against Maryland, looked feeble against N.C. State (3-0), giving up 589 yards in the loss, one yard short of tying the program record for most yards allowed in a game.
Sophomore safety Nate Godwin said the N.C. State offensive attack shocked the Bulls.
“We don’t expect that out of our defense, we hold ourselves to a higher standard than that. We have to execute,” Godwin said.
N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett had little trouble with the Bulls, completing 20 of his 29 passes, good for 266 yards and two touchdowns.
Brissett only had to throw 29 times because of the success of the running game. N.C. State had three players with 10 rushes or more and totaled 263 rushing yards.
The defense only forced one turnover, a pick-six by sophomore Lamar Robbins in the third quarter.
USF heads into conference play this week when they host UConn on Friday evening and Taggart said his team isn’t where it needs to be.
“I think you always want to go into conference play on a roll, hitting on all cylinders,” Taggart said. “Unfortunately, we’re not there. I know this football team is better than what we’re showing, we have to make sure we can show it on Saturdays.”