USF fell to AAC foe Tulane 41-15 on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium in its second straight loss of the season.
The Bulls (7-2, 3-2) got some momentum early by blocking a Tulane (4-5, 3-2) field goal, then drove the length of the field to set up three points of their own. The Bulls led 3-0, but they would have trouble scoring for the rest of the game.
“I think the first drive we needed to score, that would have given us a good momentum start. I thought it was a really good drive to start it off but we needed to finish it and we didn't,” quarterback Blake Barnett said. “From that point on it was just a lot of details, little things that we should have done better.”
Tulane dictated the game, taking a 27-3 lead into halftime, but the Bulls were playing poorly and produced three turnovers in the game.
Johnny Ford muffed a punt in the first half that gave Tulane excellent field position to score a touchdown. Later in the game, Barnett threw an interception, then even later, Darnell Salomon fumbled what would be a 20-yard catch — instead Tulane kept getting the ball.
According to wide receiver Stanley Clerveaux, one of the biggest issues facing USF was a lack of focus.
“We just have to stay focused during the whole game, I feel we lost focus out there,” Clerveaux said. “We have to tighten up to be honest, just tighten up and stay focused all the way through.”
Barnett shared his teammate’s sentiment.
“I think for everyone on the team we need to do that, be focused and leave everything on the field. Tonight, I don’t know if we necessarily did that,” Barnett said.
The Bulls were able to find some daylight late in the third quarter, scoring their first touchdown of the game on a run from freshman Johnny Ford. The Bulls closed the gap, but the ensuing extra point was blocked — USF trailed 34-9.
The Bulls’ only touchdown came from a one-yard run from Barnett, but the following two-point conversion was unsuccessful.
Barnett ended his afternoon throwing 29-of-49 with 332 yards. He also led the team in rushing with 16 carries for 59 yards and one touchdown.
USF goes on the road next week to Cincinnati, which beat Navy 42-0 on Saturday.
Coach Charlie Strong noted some glaring changes that need to happen as the season goes on.
“One thing we need to do is wake up, we need to wake up and realize that in order to win in Cincinnati is to play our best,” Coach Charlie Strong said. “We got to come in and work right at it, we can’t use the excuse of playing too many freshman. One thing we won't do is we won't quit, we are going to go compete.”