Takeaways: Offense and coaching struggle, again

Coach Jeff Scott only has one FBS win out of 22 since he joined USF in 2020. ORACLE PHOTO/LEDA ALVIM

Hurricane Ian didn’t affect USF football’s performance against ECU on Saturday. Poor coaching did.

The Bulls (1-4, 0-1) were outclassed in the 48-28 loss to the Pirates (3-2, 1-0). The game was over for USF by halftime as ECU held a 34-point lead. No matter how well the team performed in the second half, the Bulls’ trend of poor performances in first halves outweighed.

Here’s why the Bulls weren’t able to keep up with the Pirates.

Playing catchup

As seen many times before in the program’s recent years, USF has once again shown it can only get into the groove in the second half of the game.

Early in the second quarter, the Bulls had secured just one touchdown while the Pirates dominated the field offensively to end the first half 41-7.

If USF is unable to play an entire football game with the fire they did against Florida about two weeks ago, it is hard to see where it might succeed in the rest of conference play.

Coaching mishaps

Recently, instead of blaming how the team played or talking about the opponents talent, the coaching staff has begun to point fingers at themselves.

Coach Jeff Scott said after Saturday’s game Saturday miscommunications led to some of the downfalls on the field.

“You’re just gonna take everybody [including] coaches and players to go back and look inside themselves and figure it out,” Scott said. “We still got seven more games to go. We know we have the potential to be much better than we are today. And that’s what’s most frustrating for the coaches and players.”

Though it may seem the players need to “play better,” the staff needs to tighten up their coaching before it gets too late.

Finding a new offensive identity

South Florida’s offense has been in an obvious struggle with only 31 points in the last two matches. A lot of this has to do with the slow start in the first half, but it’s also the rhythm, according to Scott.

“Offensively, obviously they were poor in the first half. Had an opportunity going in to score, fumble the ball there on the 2-yard line,” Scott said. “That’s a big-time swing right there in the game, have an opportunity to get points and is just really not in rhythm there in the first half.”

The Bulls’ record over the last five weeks clearly shows their current strategies are not working in their favor. The main pinnacle as to what they need to work on for the remainder is simple — find something that will work.

Scott believes it is crucial to look at the past and where the team is now to find what their next move should be.

“We got to go back and look at the first five games and what has worked and what has not worked,” Scott said. “We’re still trying to figure out [what] kind of identity and kind of who we are offensively. That’s something that we got to really go back and examine, what we’re doing with our guys and what they do best.”

Horn shines despite the outcome

On the receiving end, sophomore wide receiver Jimmy Horn Jr. excelled after struggling with an ankle injury.

Against ECU, Horn carried 180 receiving yards and two touchdowns, with the longest pass being marked at 91 yards.

Having Horn back on the field Saturday was important for Scott, knowing he would contribute to some of the few successes in the game.

“I mean, I think No. 1, it’s just good to get Jimmy back because he’s been out for a little bit,” Scott said.

During his four games played this season, Horn has 242 receiving yards, 121 kick return yards and 22 rushing. He currently is second on the team in receiving yards behind junior wide receiver Xavier Weaver.