Dating back to the second half of last season, the USF Bulls offense has been among the worst in college football. Can the Georgia Tech defense continue the Bull’s misfortunes?
The USF Bulls debuted their 2019 offense, last Friday night against Wisconsin and it was an ugly effort. The Bulls totaled 157-yards and were shutout in their 49-0 loss to Wisconsin. It was a tough debut for offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell.
The Bulls made a change at offensive coordinator after seeing their season collapse last year after starting 7-0. They lost their last six games of the season including five losses where they scored 23-points or less in five-straight games. It was an abysmal offensive effort down the stretch to say the least.
That made last Friday night’s offensive debut for Kerwin Bell, that much worse. It will be interesting to see if the Bulls can bounce back this weekend against a defense they had success against last season.
At quarterback for the Bulls will be former Alabama and Arizona State quarterback, Blake Barnett. Barnett against Wisconsin struggled mightily, completing 13-of-30 passing attempts for 109-yards while throwing two interceptions in the process.
Last season, Barnett had quality success against the Yellow Jackets, completing 21-of-31 passing attempts for 202-yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for 91-yards and two touchdowns over the course of 16 carries.
The good news for the Yellow Jackets is that Barnett has struggled mightily since the second half of last season including against Wisconsin last weekend. The Jackets, on the other hand, have seen their secondary improve drastically including a tremendous effort against Trevor Lawrence and Clemson last Thursday.
This is a matchup right now that probably favors the Yellow Jackets, especially with the Bulls offense not seeming to have a direction heading into the weekend.
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The Bulls weren’t able to have success on the ground either against Wisconsin, rushing for just 26-yards on 23-attempts. Barnett officially led the Bulls in carries with seven but had -3 yards on the evening. Their leading rusher for the game was backup quarterback Jordan McCloud who picked up 17-yards on three carries.
Senior running back Jordan Cronkrite who entered the season looking for his second-straight 1000+ yard season struggled against the mighty Wisconsin defense as well, picking up just nine yards over six carries. He did, however, have 23-yards on three receptions.
The Bulls had success on the ground last year against the Jackets, rushing for 224-yards on 44-carries. As mentioned above, Barnett led the Bulls in that game with 98-yards. Outside of Barnett, the Bulls saw success on the ground with now Alabama State running back Duran Bell who had 12 carries for 69-yards.
Conkrite, who the Jackets will see plenty of on Saturday had 39-yards on nine carries including a long of 14-yards.
Last season, wide receiver Tyree McCants hurt the Jackets the most with 10 receptions for 99-yards. McCants is now gone after exhausting his eligibility but the Bulls still have a few receiving weapons left in 2019.
Despite just completing 16 passing attempts as a team on Saturday, the Bulls saw 10 different receivers catch passes. Leading the team in receptions was the trio of running back Jordan Cronkrite as mentioned above, sophomore receiver Randall St.Felix who had three receptions for 31-yards and sophomore Bryce Miller who had three receptions for 16-yards.
That being said, the two names to know the most and the Bulls top two receiving receivers entering this year is the aforementioned Randall St.Felix as well as tight end Mitchell Wilcox. Wilxcox last season had 43-receptions for 540-yards.
Due to the mostly inexperienced wide receiving core for the Bulls, the Jackets have to like the matchup their secondary has for this weekend. Especially after allowing less than 200-yards passing from Trevor Lawrence last week while also picking off the Heisman favorite twice, the first multi-interception game of his career.
Last year, the Bulls offensive line held up well against a Jackets defensive line that struggled to create pressure. The Jackets for the game wound up with just two sacks and five tackles for a loss. It is an offensive line that can be exploited however as Wisconsin tallied up four sacks and five tackles for a loss last Friday night. That’s on top of the 38 that the Bulls allowed last season, an average of 2.92 sacks per game.
The Jackets defensive line struggled against an experienced and talented Clemson offensive line, Saturday’s matchup for the Jackets will be an interesting one. The Jackets need to begin creating pressure and chaos in the backfield, going against a weak offensive line in USF may just be what they need to get the ball rolling.
Overall, the Bulls offense is talented but dating back to last season, their offense has no life and it can be seen in their play on the field. Last weekend’s loss to Wisconsin albeit a strong opponent was just another abysmal showing for what was their eighth consecutive loss as a program. The Jackets defense despite allowing 52 yards against Clemson was quality at times last week.
That being said, the Jackets should be able to smell blood in the water here and take advantage of a USF program and offense that is probably lost and has little confidence when looking at the big picture of their offensive success over the last eight games dating back to last year. The Jacket shouldn’t take USF lightly though, the Bulls do have the talent to make the Jackets pay for any mistakes they may make.