Heading into Week 7, USF football is hungry to get a second win after another close performance Saturday against No. 21 Cincinnati.
Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said the team’s previous game and overall season has been a little more odd than usual.
“It’s been a weird year. We’re about to go into Game 7, and we’re starting our seventh different combination in the secondary,” Shoop said. “It’s really hard to believe. I think that’s when I come back to see the issue about routine. That’s the thing that’s been frustrating. We haven’t really gotten into a routine.”
Now getting ready to face Tulane, USF (1-5, 0-2) and its coordinators are hoping to translate last Saturday’s 28-24 heartbreaker into a win over the Green Wave (5-1, 2-0).
Looking back on the Bulls’ loss against Cincinnati, running the ball was what worked best for USF.
Though the Bearcats were quick to try and stay on pace with the Bulls, offensive coordinator Travis Trickett commemorated the team on not falling behind throughout the game.
“Start off with just resiliency. I thought guys took it upon themselves to make some plays,” Trickett said.
This week, USF’s offense will have to remain steady and consistent to compete with the Green Wave’s No. 15 ranked defense. Tulane has racked up a total of 366 tackles in the 2022 campaign along with seven sacks and six interceptions.
To stay on their toes on Saturday, the Bulls will have to remember one of their major strategies — attention to detail. That includes taking a closer look into a player’s alignment, assignment and technique.
For Trickett, following these small details in this week’s practice is what will push the Bulls to have a successful outcome against Tulane.
“Whether it’s route plans versus man or understanding coverages and say, ‘This is what I got here. I’ve got to hit this at the top of my breakpoint and be ready to go here,’” Ticket said.
“[For] quarterback, it can be a mixture of foot speed. We got to make sure our feet are fast at all times. Now it could be running backs when it comes to pressing the block, think each position got a little bit here and there.”
Along with the Green Wave’s hefty defense, another talented quarterback offense that the Bulls will have to face follows behind within the Tulane football program.
Junior quarterback Michael Pratt has tallied 1,231 passing yards, nine touchdowns, three interceptions and a 67.7% completion rate so far this season.
Besides Pratt, Tulane’s offense is organized and competitive, according to Shoop.
“They’re very balanced. They can throw the ball and run the ball well. The quarterback is very experienced and you know when he’s hot, he’s really really hot,” Shoop said. “The running backs are very good, they actually run a little bit of wildcat, which is a little bit unorthodox.
“They probably do as much from a formation perspective, and probably have as many formations and looks as any team we play. They’re playing with tremendous, tremendous confidence.”
However, USF’s defense has looked cleaner in its recent games than where it was at the beginning of the season. Within the defense, there has also been a strong sense of influence among teammates.
Senior linebacker Dwayne Boyles has helped take charge in guiding the Bulls’ defense, according to Shoop, and has done well while doing it.
“We started out with a good week [last week] of practice. I thought our leaders kind of set the pace. Dwayne Boyles is that guy,” Shoop said. “His leadership and his demeanor are off the charts. We just got off to a better start.”
After four consecutive away games, the Bulls will play the Green Wave for their Homecoming game on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. The game will be livestreamed on ESPNU and broadcast on Bulls Unlimited.