USF football end-of-season report card

On track to break records, sophomore running back Brian Battie will be a player to watch in 2023. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

“So close, yet so far” seemed to be the tale of South Florida football’s 2022 season. The frustration was widespread among fans as they yearned for a better football program.

News of a planned on-campus stadium and indoor practice facility gave the impression that this year would hold more victories than disappointments. That was not the case. The Bulls (1-11, 0-8 AAC) finished with a single win and 11 losses.

While being let down turned into a weekly routine, the Bulls did come close against ranked teams and showcased promising players.

Game of the year

South Florida at Florida (Sept. 17)

USF gave a performance in Gainesville against then-No. 18 Florida no one expected. The Bulls consistently played through all four quarters, but fell short 31-28 to a botched field goal at the end of the game that would have allowed them to play in overtime.

South Florida’s offense finished with 286 rushing yards which is the most UF (6-6, 3-5 SEC) allowed in its entire season.

Former coach Jeff Scott believed they showcased their full potential and never doubted their ability to win.

“I really told them I want to see two things tonight in this game,” Scott said. “I want to see us play hard for four quarters, because we hadn’t done that all year. And then I want to see us have fun, and we did both of those things.”

Heartbreak of the year

South Florida vs. Central Florida (Nov. 26)

Not only did the Bulls lose the War on I-4 trophy to their rival UCF, but they fell short 46-39 on senior night.

Sophomore running back Brian Battie hurt for his senior teammates because of how desperately they wanted a win over the Knights (9-3, 6-2 AAC) to close off their college career.

“It hurts,” Battie said. “Tonight … I know I’ll drop a few tears just for my big brothers because I know that they love me and they’ll do whatever to see me be successful and I will [do] the same.”

After only scoring one touchdown in the first half, USF came back with 22 points in the third quarter. The Bulls were ahead by one in the fourth quarter but the Knights scored their game winning touchdown with 20 seconds left. They stopped USF from completing a Hail Mary pass in the end zone in the last seconds of the game.

Because UCF is moving into the Big 12 next season, the match up marked the last rivalry game for the foreseeable future.

Long list of adversities

The obstacles seen every week made it seem like USF had bad luck from walking under a ladder. On top of only winning one game, over 21 starters were injured over the course of the 12 games.

Junior quarterback Gerry Bohanon injured his shoulder when playing one of his best games against then No. 25 Tulane. The next man up was sophomore Katravis Marsh, but a hard hit against SMU caused a neck injury after just four weeks starting.

Other key starters for the Bulls include graduate student left tackle Donovan Jennings, who broke his leg when facing Louisville, and defensive tackle Rashad Cheney Jr., who broke his ankle at Cincinnati.

One week before Marsh was out for the season, Scott was fired. The chaos of a shifting depth chart and staff changes made for a bumpy finale.

Battie’s exceptional performance

Battie has a bright future ahead of him based on his record-breaking capabilities. After marking 144 rushing yards over UCF, he posted five straight games running over 100 yards.

Totaling 1,186 yards, Battie tied the record of consecutive 100-yard games with former running backs Jordan Cronkrite and Marlon Mack, and former quarterback Quinton Flowers. He is on track to hold the record when he plays the first game of the 2023 season.

His appearance into the next year is one fans can look forward to as he declared he will not be entering the transfer portal despite the hiring of the new coach.

“I want to do what I can for my brothers,” Battie said. “Regardless of who the coach is, we play for each other. I like to finish where I started.”

Grade: C-