USF’s fifth-ranked offense emanating confidence

Junior Marlon Mack celebrates a touchdown with freshman Billy Atterbury who is out indefinitely with a fractured leg. ORACLE PHOTO/JACOB HOAG

With the Bulls’ 45-20 win Saturday night over Cincinnati (3-2, 0-1), USF (4-1, 1-0) now boasts the fifth highest scoring offense in the country (45.8 ppg).

The Bulls “Gulf Coast” offense, led by the program’s new career rushing leader Marlon Mack (2,755 yards), has scored at least 35 points in all off their last nine games, dating back to last season.

The last time USF failed to reach that plateau was Nov 7, when the Bulls fought off Saturday’s opponent, East Carolina (2-3, 0-1), for a 22-17 victory.

During Monday’s weekly AAC coaches’ teleconference, USF coach Willie Taggart said he has a poised group on offense going into Saturday’s matchup with the Pirates.

“I think you see a bunch of guys with a lot of confidence on that side of the ball,” Taggart said.

“(They’re) confident they can score every time we have the ball, and I think that’s what we’re seeing out of our offense…it’s just a confident group of guys that really have a passion for getting to the endzone.”

Another ‘Cadillac’?

Rushing for 118 yards Saturday against the Bearcats, the 15th time in his career, Mack has received high praise from media and coaches from across the country, including Cincinnati head coach Tommy Tuberville.

Tuberville, in his 21st year as a head coach, has previously been the head man at “Power 5” schools Ole Miss, Auburn, and Texas Tech, before coming to Cincinnati in 2013.

No stranger to coaching great college running backs, Tuberville has experience coaching dynamic running backs in his time as a head coach, including, former Auburn Tigers and NFL running backs Ronnie Brown and Carnell “Cadillac” Williams.

After seeing Mack again Saturday, Tuberville had nothing but praise for USF’s all-time leading rusher.

“He’s got very good vision,” Tuberville said.

“He’s excellent in the open field…he’s just very elusive. He’s got very good speed, he’s probably the fastest running back we’ve seen in a while, but he runs well inside. They’re trying to find ways to get him the football, as anybody would because of his talent…catching, running…very impressed.  Obviously we saw the back end of him several times the way he ran Saturday.”

O-Line suffers tough loss

While downplaying injuries to senior defense tackle Bruce Hector (ankle) and junior corner Deatrick Nichols, calling them ‘probable’, Taggart said freshman left tackle Billy Atterbury would be out indefinitely with a fractured leg.

Atterbury, a local product from Clearwater Central Catholic High School, had cemented his place on the offensive line through the first half of the Bulls’ season. However, Atterbury will be replaced by another underclassmen in redshirt freshman Marcus Norman.

 “(Atterbury) was doing a good job, he was getting better,” Coach Taggart said.

“First year player…and he was doing a good job for us. Marcus Norman will start the game. He has some reps in there, and will continue to do a good job for us.