Alex Golesh recorded his first win as USF football’s head coach on Saturday against FAMU. However, another Bull achieved a similar milestone.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown scored five touchdowns in the 38-24 triumph against the Rattlers (1-1) in his first victory as a starter. He completed 20 of his 34 pass attempts for 197 yards and three passing touchdowns, adding 23 yards and two touchdowns on the ground.
He recorded zero turnovers compared to three in his season debut against Western Kentucky last week. Brown said he’s become more comfortable under center due to his growing experience.
“Going in last year, everything was kind of fast,” Brown said. “But now, getting the first game out of the way, [I am] seeing stuff, knowing where to go and what to do. So [the game] is definitely slowing down a little bit.”
Here are a few takeaways from Saturday’s game.
USF’s first-quarter defensive activity
During a press conference on Wednesday, USF defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said he was disappointed in his defense’s inability to create takeaways in their season opener.
Flash forward to Saturday, the defense recorded five takeaways, three of which came in the first quarter.
Sophomore safeties Jaelen Stokes and Logan Berryhill recorded their first career interceptions in the first quarter. Junior linebacker Jamie Pettway forced a fumble on a kickoff that redshirt freshman linebacker Mac Harris recovered. Sophomore defensive end D.J. Harris recovered a fumble forced by senior linebacker Jhalyn Shuler.
Berryhill would later make another timely interception with two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter to squash any chance of the Rattlers making a comeback.
This level of defensive activity must remain consistent for the Bulls to stay competitive this season.
Penalties galore and offensive line struggles
For the second game in a row, the Bulls committed a high amount of penalties. Of the Bulls’ 14 penalties during Saturday’s game, five were holding calls, two were false starts and two were unsportsmanlike conduct errors.
And similar to last week’s game, The offensive line failed to protect the quarterback similar to last week’s game, allowing six sacks.
Over the past two games, USF has accumulated 25 penalties for 214 yards while allowing 11 sacks—the Bulls rank 130th in the NCAA for fewest penalties and 130th in sacks allowed.
Golesh said many of these mistakes are self-inflicted because of the players’ lack of real-game experience.
“Our identity, I can tell you through two weeks, is we’re going to fly around and play really hard. That’s awesome. Like that, to me, is a foundation,” he said.
“[But] we’re not playing super smart. We’re not executing at a high clip, really at critical times at a high clip. We do at times when we don’t at times and we allow ourselves to get emotionally involved in individual plays. That’s where a lot of the post-snap penalties are coming from.”
He says that maintaining their composure is the next step in building the foundation of their culture.
“I love the energy, I love the intensity and I love the emotion, but the next-play mentality has got to be part of our foundation…” Golesh said. “We just have got to continue to pour into our foundation, attitude, effort, process, everything. It’s certainly not perfect, and we’ve got to continue to chase perfection in that.”
What about their FBS streak?
With the win against the Rattlers, the Bulls snapped their 11-game losing streak from the previous season. However, another bar still looms over the team.
USF has dropped 17 straight games against an FBS school. Its last win was a 34-14 victory against Temple on Oct. 23, 2021.
The Bulls’ next chance to overcome their slump will be against No. 10 Alabama on Sept. 16. Golesh said their game against the Crimson Tide (1-1) is another step in the growth of USF football, regardless of how it plays out.
“[If we] want to be a top-20 football program’, [then] we have to go play against those guys,” he said. “So I’m excited, certainly excited to get to play them [at Raymond James]. Honestly, I hope this place is rocking, and it’ll be a blast.