Defense outplayed in USF’s loss to Houston

The Bull’s defense gave 490 total yards to the Cougar’s offense Saturday. ORACLE PHOTO/ALEXANDRA URBAN

Although South Florida football had two weeks to prepare for Houston, the Bulls came up short 42-27 on Saturday at TDECU Stadium.

Starting off well, the Bulls (1-7, 0-4) traded scores with the Cougars (5-3, 3-1) through the first half, keeping the margin on the scoreboard to a minimum. However, the outperformance of Houston’s senior quarterback Clayton Tune and their defense led USF to its downfall.

Tune completed 380 passing yards over the Bulls and the defense had a total of 60 tackles with three sacks and seven tackles for loss.

Here are some other key takeaways from Saturday’s game.

Marsh off to good start

Many eyes were on sophomore quarterback Katravis Marsh as he took the field for his first career start and he showed he is going in the right direction.

Marsh marked the Bulls’ best passing game of the season with a 71% completion rate for 275 yards. Coach Jeff Scott said Marsh played well for his first career start, especially with no turnovers.

“I felt like he managed the game pretty well so far,” Scott said. “The most improvement in a quarterback is typically from the first game as a starter to that second game. I expect to see him build off of this performance so he can continue to improve next week as we move forward.”

Battie continues to be key playmaker

Sophomore running back Brian Battie continues to shine as he led South Florida in rushing yards against Houston. He was a huge factor in the Bulls’ first two touchdowns of the game.

In the first quarter, Battie was able to find his way for a 37-yard run for first down which sparked momentum for another 13-yard rush into the end zone. When the Bulls got the ball back, Battie ran another 20 yards for a touchdown.

Leading the offense for rushing yards, Battie had 106 yards on 12 carries.

Cougar’s offense was too quick for the Bull’s defense

Earlier in the week, defensive coordinator Bob Shoop mentioned they needed to work on making more plays against the passing game to prepare for Houston.

Despite the efforts, the Bulls still gave up 387 passing yards and four receiving touchdowns.

Scott said the aggressiveness of the Cougar’s offense and the swiftness of their quarterback was the reason for the loss.

“It didn’t feel like our lack of getting stops on defense was because our guys weren’t playing hard,” he said. “They were playing hard. Houston executed those balls that they threw and there was tight coverage. We had guys there, but they executed very well.”

Questionable play calling

South Florida cannot afford to lose points, let alone from poor play calling. However, it seemed to happen anyway.

Not able to maintain the dynamic, the Bulls decided to kick the field goal instead of going for a conversion at fourth and five. The missed 31-yard field goal ended up setting USF back as the Cougars continued to score.

After the game, Scott admitted he wished South Florida ran the ball to keep the energy of the game up.

“Probably looking back on it, I wish I would have gone forward there,” he said. “Because it was a touchdown kind of game.”

The Bulls also tried to get the two-point conversion at the end of the fourth quarter. Attempting a trick-play, Marsh threw the ball to graduate student offensive lineman Demontrey Jacobs. Much like the game, however, the ball slipped through his fingers.

USF heads to Philadelphia to play Temple at Lincoln Financial Field on Saturday. Kickoff is timed for 2 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited.