Travis Trickett and Bob Shoop, the Bulls’ new offensive and defensive coordinators, respectively, are preparing for their first game at USF.
No. 25 BYU and USF both open their seasons on Saturday. Here is what to look out for on both sides.
Trickett said he hasn’t called a football game in three years. As he enters his first at USF, his strategy is unknown to many.
When it comes to what plays need to happen and fitting players into the offense, Trickett has been going over every detail with “a fine tooth comb.”
“We do game day simulations every day in practice,” Trickett said. “We tried our sideline mechanics, our substitution mechanics all the time because that’s something you saw in college football this past week. You see a couple of substitution errors, false starts for some other teams and as you do some game one stuff, but we’re trying to eliminate that now.”
BYU presents itself as a threat every year, specifically with its strong defense, specifically senior corners D’Angelo Mandell and Kaleb Hayes and senior safety Malik Moore.
All three have faced South Florida before, contributing to the 71 tackles the Cougars had over the Bulls. One major issue BYU brings to the table is its defense’s ability to disguise its next move.
“Just the randomness. They’ll do one thing, then it leads to another, to another and I’m sure it’s not random, there’s a reason why they do it,” Trickett said.
“You just don’t know what you’re gonna get sometimes. It’s a testament to their staff and their scheme. That’s why they can have the players they have that are big, strong guys and they got good speed, good size and athleticism outside of all, too. It’s built for big D-linemen that can push the pocket vertically.”
While in game, using an experienced offense that has faced the Cougars is key. With seasoned junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon leading the herd, his resume is what will benefit the Bulls.
“His last season he led a team to a championship and won a lot of games and won a big bowl, so he’s been in those battles,” Trickett said. “He’s been in big games. He’s played against BYU last year. Yes, I know what to expect.
“The good thing is that those guys that play, they know a guy back there has been through it. He has confidence in them because they know they’ve been through it. So when you have that experience, that’s the one thing you just can’t buy.”
In preparations for his first season with South Florida, the first game of the season presents a huge question mark of how to handle dual-threat Cougars redshirt junior quarterback Jaren Hall.
Hall started 10 games for BYU last season, throwing 2,583 yards along with 20 touchdowns. His arm shows talent, but Shoop is concerned about his running as well.
“The hardest thing to prepare for as a defensive coach is a quarterback who can both throw and run, a traditional dual-threat quarterback,” Shoop said.
“Quarterbacks that can run but can’t throw create certain challenges. And quarterbacks that can throw but can’t run create certain challenges. But a guy that can do both is very challenging for a defensive coach and a defensive unit.”
An explosive offense entering the field means a defense of a certain caliber must follow to compete.
In comparison to last season’s defense, Shoop believes the defensive line has enhanced with the help of veterans along with the new faces on the roster.
“We expect more out of all the levels and the D-line has improved greatly. They worked really hard,” Shoop said.
“The addition of some of the transfer portal guys plus the improvement of the guys that were previously on the roster has been positive. I’m excited to watch guys like [senior Rashawn] Yates and [sophomore Rashad] Cheney play on Saturday. I’m excited to watch guys like [sophomore Tramel] Logan and [senior Jatorian] Hansford play on Saturday.”
However, there is one possible weakness the Bulls are hopeful for but don’t think will bring much change — the tentative absence of BYU wide receiver Gunner Romney.
Shoop assumes that even if Romney doesn’t play on Saturday, the position will remain steady and remain a troublesome spot.
“They’ve got good depth at wide receiver,” Shoop said. “We’ve all seen the same things you’ve seen about Romney and Pakula. I anticipate that they’re gonna play but if they don’t, if you follow their storyline during training camp, some of the younger receivers have really stepped up and had a great camp.”
BYU is a consistent top 25 team with strength in every department, but Shoop believes the USF defense is ready.
“We feel like we’ve got a decent grasp for what they’re attempting to do down there, and we’ve put together a plan to stop the things that we’ve seen on film,” he said.
“Any new season can present new opportunities, though, so it’s really not necessarily about what they do. It’s all the things that we’ve trained for in spring football and in training camp and applying those to the situation in the game.”