OPINION: USF-Wisconsin postgame takeaways
“Humiliating” and “embarrassing” were the words coach Charlie Strong used to describe USF’s 49-0 blowout loss to No. 19 Wisconsin at home on Friday night.
To judge the Bulls after one game isn’t fair, especially after playing an opponent like the Badgers. But USF failed to put points on the board despite its highly-touted new offense.
The Bulls’ loss to the Badgers was the largest loss for the Bulls in program history, surpassing a 42-3 at Arkansas in 2002.
To put it simply, USF was nothing shy of disgraceful to kick off the 2019 season.
Jonathan Taylor was too much to handle
Wisconsin running back and Heisman Trophy contender Jonathan Taylor was bound to be a problem for the Bulls. After scoring three touchdowns before the half, it was clear he did what USF thought he would do.
The key to having a chance in this game was shutting down Taylor as quickly as possible. Clearly, it didn’t go as planned, as he finished with four touchdowns and 135 net rushing yards.
At the end of the game, Taylor was 42 percent of the Badgers’ offense with 183 of Wisconsin’s 433 total yards.
In short, USF couldn’t find a way to shut down Taylor and the scoreline showed it.
Bell’s new offense makes bad on its debut
Preseason chatter was dominated by one thing: the new look to USF’s offense. Offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell looked like he had finally put the puzzle pieces in the right places. However, USF’s performance against the Badgers says otherwise.
USF only managed 157 total yards. In fact, the Bulls made it past the midfield once, which says a lot about the efficiency of the offense.
Out of 30 attempted passes by quarterback Blake Barnett, only 43 percent of them found their man. Barnett also threw two interceptions.
What’s even more baffling is that, despite his poor performance, Barnett played up until the very last drive before being replaced by backup Jordan McCloud.
In one drive, McCloud became the best offensive player for the Bulls by completing all three of his passes and leading the team in rushing with 17 net yards.
The only chance the Bulls had at putting points on the board was late in the fourth quarter with a field-goal attempt, purely for consolation. Junior kicker Coby Weiss missed the 43-yard kick and the Bulls’ hopes of salvaging some dignity from the game faded.
Would Johnny Ford have given the Bulls a fighting chance?
Fans were left scratching their heads when running back/slot receiver Johnny Ford was not listed on the roster due to a “coaches’ decision.”
Ford was second in total net rushing yards in 2018 with 787 and has been expected to be a pivotal part of USF’s offense this year as well.
Would the Bulls have won if they had played Ford? Absolutely not. But they would have at least put up some sort of fight.
Patient fans nearing their limits
Fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths, considering the promise of something different from the Bulls this season.
Prior to kickoff, Bulls fans displayed intense energy. Even after a weather delay of almost an hour, 46,704 fans kept the energy going up until a certain point.
The stands were noticeably empty at halftime, which was due in part to a slight drizzle.
Some fans had retreated indoors, but after the rain had subsided, only about half of the fans remained.
By the end of the third quarter, there were more Wisconsin shirts in the stands, and the student section was barren.
A dreary night coupled with a dreadful home performance from the Bulls left USF fans feeling crestfallen.
Given the now seven-game losing streak, USF fans are left wondering when they will see a change of pace.