Bulls still face challenges before home opener

Coach Jeff Scott said the Bulls still have a lot of work to do before they face the Cougars this weekend. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

Despite the excitement revolving around the first game of the season, the Bulls are not where they want to be as they prepare for the home opener on Sept. 3 against BYU.

In a Tuesday press conference, Scott said the overall culture of the team has been better which gives him optimism, but there’s still a lot to work on before they face the Cougars.

“What we’ve got to do is transition from fall camp where we’re just out running plays, to a game plan and understand the nuances of what your opponent’s going to do,” Scott said.

BYU’s starting quarterback, junior Jaren Hall, doesn’t make that transition any easier. Hall started 10 games during the 2021 season while averaging 258 passing yards per game. He is also BYU’s second-leading rusher.

“He’s a dynamic quarterback,” Scott said. “You can also tell he’s got great leadership. He’s got command of the offense when he’s out there. He’s directing traffic [and] I think he has a complete game as a thrower. Also, he’s a big time threat as a runner.”

Hall took the starting spot after Zach Wilson was drafted by the Jets in 2021.

On top of that, Scott stressed that transitioning from fall camp to season games is difficult, especially having a large number of transfers on the roster.

“The old school model would be you lose your seniors, and you bring a bunch of freshmen in and maybe have one transfer,” Scott said. “Now you have 10 to 15 transfers coming in and you may change and tweak some of what you do within your offense or defense for the kids that you have.”

Fifteen players have transferred to USF for the 2022 season, including the Bull’s starting quarterback, junior Gerry Bohanon who transferred from Baylor.

In the last two seasons, the Bulls have only won three games and are in need of a comeback. Scott feels the overall culture of the team has helped when preparing for the BYU game. It has progressed into more willingness to learn, which was very different from last season.

“The biggest thing that I’ve seen from a year ago to now is just the practice habits,” Scott said. “Just the way the guys go every day in practice and push themselves.”

During the past seasons, players would normally find ways to be off the field, avoid practices and wait until game day to take initiative.

“As the head coach and assistant coaches, we aren’t the only ones really speaking that culture into existence,” Scott said. “It’s the leadership of the players. And that’s what I’ve seen, is watching the players, really kind of encouraging each other.”

The mindset he has been working to fix since he began coaching USF in 2020 is finally coming into fruition. Scott encourages the team to work hard, despite the standout players and difficulty of beginning a new season.

“I think our guys are looking forward to preparing for an opponent,” Scott said. “It gives me optimism and excitement for the potential that this team has but we still have plenty of work to do here.”