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‘That wasn’t us’: Defense looking to rebound after disappointing performance against UAB

USF will return home to face FAU in an attempt to break a three game homecoming losing streak. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

For junior defensive tackle Rashad Cheney, the poor defensive performance against UAB was a wake-up call for a USF team that has gotten off to a hot start this season

“I haven’t seen that type of team since spring ball… it kind of hurt watching the film because we knew that wasn’t us,” Cheney said.

The defense was picked apart all game long against the Blazers, allowing 608 offensive yards.

While recognizing that the defense played poorly, Cheney said that a negative performance can offer a unique perspective to the locker room.

“It’s good to know that anyone in the country can beat you if you’re not on your ‘A’ game, no matter what their record is,” Cheney said.

Bulls (3-3, 2-1 AAC) coach Alex Golesh said he is determined to move forward as a team and a coaching staff

In a game mired by offensive mistakes and poor defense, Golesh reflected on the frustrating performance that saw USF fail to stay undefeated in conference play.

“The part that was really frustrating is that our best players didn’t play well,” Golesh said.

“There’s a million excuses we can make. We won’t make them, we need to keep moving forward,” Golesh said.

Despite scoring four touchdowns in the loss, redshirt freshman quarterback Byrum Brown committed two turnovers in the first quarter that led to two UAB touchdown drives. Golesh said that Brown’s inconsistent performance will facilitate his growth as he navigates his first full season as a starter

“I thought at times [Byrum] played really well, then at times wasn’t patient in the pocket and was trying to force things,” Golesh said.

USF will head back home this Saturday for its annual homecoming matchup to play FAU, hoping to break a three-game homecoming skid. Its last homecoming victory was back in 2019 with a 27-23 win over BYU.

The Bulls will face off against their third consecutive newly hired head coach. Owls head coach Tom Herman previously served in the same role at Houston and Texas, amassing a 54-22 career record.

Golesh said FAU’s (2-3, 0-1 AAC) offensive scheme and playcalling is similar to the UAB offense that averaged 17.8 yards per completion against USF last Saturday.

“They have one of the top receivers in the country. They’re good up front, they run the ball extremely well… they’re really sound on defense, nothing crazy complicated but they know what to do. They’re well-coached and they play really hard,” Golesh said.

Junior Owls wide receiver LaJohntay Webster ranks 26th in the nation in receiving yards, collecting 52 receptions for 499 yards and two touchdowns.

After senior Casey Thompson suffered a season-ending knee injury against Clemson, junior quarterback Daniel Richardson will make his third consecutive start. Richardson has passed for 520 yards and two touchdowns this season, also throwing three interceptions.

FAU and USF are facing off for the first time since 2013, where the Owls defeated the Bulls 28-10. They are one of the six teams that joined the AAC this July, replacing UCF as the de facto in-state opponent.

Halfway through the first installment of the Golesh era, USF will continue to fight through adversity and further develop continuity as a team.

“I’m interested to see if we re-calibrate as a staff… we didn’t coach well enough. We got to be able to go play fast on both sides of the ball,” Golesh said.

USF will face off against FAU on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 and BullsUnlimited.