USF football will aim to extend its winning streak in their second consecutive inter-conference road test against UAB this Saturday.
The Bulls (3-2, 2-0 AAC) are coming off of two consecutive 40-point performances for the first time since 2017 when they were ranked No. 17 in the country. Last week, the Blazers (1-4, 0-1 AAC) took on their first conference foe since joining the AAC, losing 35-23 against Tulane.
Head coach Alex Golesh continues to lead the Bulls to feats that have not occurred in several years. With its win over Navy, USF snapped a 19-game road losing streak, the longest in school history. Its 2-0 conference start is also the best since defeating East Carolina and Tulsa in 2018.
Despite leading the conference just over a month into the regular season, Golesh reiterated the importance of coaches and players continuously improving throughout the season.
“I told [the team] they can’t take a breath, many of us as coaches have to get better and the players have to get better,” Golesh said.
“We didn’t coach well enough these first five weeks, myself included in that,” Golesh said. “I’m as hard on my staff and myself as anyone in the country.”
While recognizing that there is a lot of growth that needs to happen on the team, Golesh applauded his team for their resilience performance against Navy.
Navy led 14-0 early in the first quarter before USF scored three unanswered touchdowns.
“I was really, really proud of them,” Golesh said. “It was ultimately a team effort to just go and play the next play.
The Blazers are led by first-year head coach Trent Dilfer, a notable name in the Tampa Bay community. Dilfer was drafted by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1994, starting in 76 games across six seasons.
Junior UAB quarterback Jacob Zeno is off to an efficient start this season, throwing for 1,442 yards and 8 touchdowns. Zeno’s 75.5% completion percentage ranks fourth in the nation, and his 31.4 completions per game also rank third in the nation.
Golesh recognized the defensive challenges that Zeno poses for the Bulls.
“They do a good job of getting the ball to playmakers in space, and [Zeno] does an incredible job of delivering quick and accurately,” Golesh said.
The Blazers have only allowed nine sacks this season. However, the Bulls’ defense has prided themselves on getting to the quarterback. USF has racked up 14 sacks through five games, which ranks 29th in the country.
“The scheme allows [Zeno] not to take sacks,” Golesh said. “He’s very aware of what’s going on.”
UAB has made a name for itself playing opportunistic defense. The Blazers’ eight fumble recoveries ties for the national lead, and their plus three turnover margin ranks second in the AAC.
“Defensively, they’re probably the biggest team we’ve played since week three,” Golesh said. “It’ll be really hard for us to run the football and establish from a pass protection standpoint.”
USF will take on UAB at Protective Stadium on Saturday. The game will kickoff at 4 p.m. ET and will be broadcasted on ESPN2 and BullsUnlimited.