Down the stretch, Scott reflects on first season with USF

With just four games left this season, coach Jeff Scott reflected on his experience coaching USF so far. What’s surprised him the most is the quality of teams in the AAC. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Coach Jeff Scott said early on in the season that he knew about the challenges he would face.

With the effects of COVID-19, a rotating list of unavailable players and canceled and postponed games, the conditions for a first-year head coach haven’t been ideal.

Now entering the final third of his inaugural campaign as a head coach, not much has phased him.

But what he didn’t expect, though, was the intensity of the AAC.

“I’d say the biggest surprise is how impressive the teams that we played in this league,” Scott said Thursday via Zoom. “I’ve been in a completely different league, but I believe that the top four or five teams in our league could really compete with the middle or bottom parts of some other of the power five leagues.” 

So far, Tulsa and Cincinnati are the top teams in the league. Both teams are currently 3-0 in the conference, while Tulsa is 3-1 overall and Cincinnati is 5-0 overall. 

“I truly believe that Tulsa defense would probably rank somewhere around seven or eight in some of the other leagues [and] the league that I just came from honestly, [after] looking at the personnel, size and speed,” Scott said. “I’m impressed with the teams that we played. [It] really encourages me for the future as we go out and recruit in the next couple of years.”

As for the current state of USF football, Scott isn’t thrilled with the turnout of the season so far. With four games left, the Bulls are 1-5 overall and 0-4 in the conference.

“The biggest disappointment is how we played for the first six weeks,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a process. I knew that we have a lot of things to correct, but I really felt like we would be in a better position after six weeks than we are.” 

Scott mentioned that working to fix future turnovers was the main focus of this week’s practice.

“I think that’s probably the biggest disappointment from the last couple weeks is we’ve turned the ball over from fumbles and those types of things,” he said. “So that’s been a big point of emphasis this week.”

USF has a turnover differential of minus-3 for the season so far as well as nine fumbles.

While not ideal, it’s indicative of growing pains the team is experiencing in its first season under Scott.

“This is where we are. We got four opportunities in front of us. It’s all about what’s next,” he said. “We can’t do anything right now about what’s happened in the past.”

Scott’s team has much to improve on, but he is focusing on finishing the rest of the season strong. Down the stretch, Scott’s philosophy remains — go 1-0 each week.

“All we can really focus on is improving here these last four weeks, and that starts this Saturday at Memphis.”