Ford leaves program, Scott wants focus ahead of UCF game

Running back Johnny Ford (1) is no longer on the team, coach Jeff Scott said Tuesday. Also, Scott also wants the focus to be on his team, not UCF, leading up to Friday’s game. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Coach Jeff Scott started his weekly Tuesday press conference with a brief but impactful roster update — starting running back Johnny Ford is no longer part of the team.

“Not really going to get into the details of what led to my decision, but we wish him the very best, and I’m not really going to have any further comments on that situation at this time,” Scott said.

Despite missing multiple games last season and being on the fringes of the program, Ford was offered a way back to the team when Scott arrived.

But earlier this week, Ford sent out tweets describing his frustration with his role in the program. He later deleted the tweets but not before they were obtained by The Daily Stampede.

“I’m the only kid on the team [that] gets punished for doing nothing, and I’m tired of keeping my mouth quite [sic] today the day!!!,” he tweeted Monday.

Ford has been a significant part of the team this year, both on offense and the return game. Through seven games, the redshirt sophomore had 731 all-purpose yards and four total touchdowns.

Now permanently down a key playmaker, Scott then shifted the focus to USF’s matchup versus UCF, which has a skilled offense of its own.

“UCF is obviously very, very talented, has a very deep roster,” Scott said. “I think they’re either No. 1 … I know they’re No. 1 in the country in passing offense.”

The Knights pace the NCAA in passing yards with 377.6 per game and also rank second in total offensive yards per game with 586.6.

While the rivalry between the two programs is an important layer to the game, Scott said the Bulls must remain focused on themselves.

“That’s really my message for our guys. Obviously, we understand the rivalry, and [we’re] excited about that,” he said. “But our focus really has to be on ourselves.”

Scott referenced some of his past experiences and how sometimes coaches can actually do more harm than good when emphasizing the importance of rivalry week.

“I think one mistake you can make as a coach is to put too much emphasis in that rivalry game or talk about your opponents all week,” Scott said.

As the season comes to a close, Scott said he is looking to put together the best game the Bulls have had all year and end the season on a high note.

Unless the previously postponed Florida Atlantic and Navy games are quickly rescheduled, which is unlikely given time constraints, this will be the Bulls’ last game of 2020.

“Let’s find a way to play our best four quarters here in our last game on Friday,” he said. “That’s our plan, and [we’re] off to a good start so far this week.”