‘The standard is to win’: Golesh hopes effort translates into victory heading into home opener

Head coach Alex Golesh spoke about his goals to maintain a winning standard at a press conference on Tuesday. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Bulls head coach Alex Golesh reflected on his team’s up and down performance on Saturday and his experience coaching them for the first time at a Tuesday press conference.  

South Florida lost its season opener at Western Kentucky 41-24 after building a 10-point lead in the first quarter. Despite the loss, Golesh found positive aspects in his team’s overall performance.

“[There were] a lot of really positive things. From an effort standpoint, I thought it was phenomenal. I thought defensively we flew around. We made a ton of plays,” Golesh said. 

“For a unit that’s heard nothing but negativity for a year, they came out heads on fire and tried to kill it. I’ll take it every day. I was encouraged.” 

However, Golesh said that Saturday’s loss to the Hilltoppers isn’t the standard he sets for his team.

“There’s never going to be a moral victory or silver lining of any sort, we didn’t win the game. The standard is to win the game,” Golesh said. 

Sophomore center Mike Lofton said he wasn’t pleased with the offensive line’s performance on Saturday.

“I’d say it was lackluster,” Lofton said. “You have to be able to protect the quarterback. I know we ran the ball well, but at the end of the day, you have to protect the guy throwing the ball, because he’s the leader of the team.” 

USF accumulated 374 yards on the ground, the sixth most in a single game in program history. Heading into week two, the Bulls rank No. 2 nationally in rushing yards. However, redshirt freshman quar terback Byrum Brown was sacked five times on Saturday.

Since Golesh was hired last December, he has continuously endorsed a winning standard. With a largely retooled roster and a first-year coaching staff, Golesh emphasized the importance of steadily building culture as the season progresses.

“You’re trying to fix a culture that was last in the country. That’s all they heard, that’s all they’ve seen, that’s all they’ve read,” he said. 

“Continuously pour into what we are and who we are and what our standard is… [it’s about] forcing the young guys and the coaching staff to live up to that standard.”

That mindset will have to persist during this week’s home opener against Florida A&M. The Rattlers play in the FCS, one of two Division I football subdivisions.

Unlike the Bulls, who play in the FBS, The Rattlers do not get the same benefits in recruiting and athletic budgets. 

Despite the Rattlers being an FCS program with a disadvantage, Golesh said he expects the same preparation and output from his team. 

“The process doesn’t change, nothing changes. It’s the same exact thing,” Golesh said.

For Golesh, the standard is more than just a measurable week-to-week output. It’s building a legacy for the program for years to come. 

“You are taking a program that has not seen success in four years, and you are building a foundation for what this program will be. Our process is more important than anything else,” he said.

Golesh also said the Bulls’ preparation process to face the Rattlers this Saturday follows them off the field. 

“It doesn’t matter who you play, it doesn’t even matter what day of the week it is. For us, a foundation is what we look like as a program, how [our] kids act, how [they] do everything within their daily structure,” Golesh said.  

Florida A&M comes to Tampa riding a 10-game winning streak, finishing last season with nine consecutive wins and defeating Jackson State in last week’s season opener. The Bulls and the Rattlers last faced off in 2021, where USF won 38-17. 

With the season opener under his belt, Golesh said he looks forward to coaching in front of the USF crowd for the first time.

“I hope we have an incredible crowd and our alumni base shows up. Go support these guys and see a fun brand of football,” he said.

USF will take on Florida A&M at Raymond James Stadium on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+ and BullsUnlimited.