NIU Huskies 17
USF Bulls 48
It’s said in commercials that Red Bull gives you wings. Bulls head coach Willie Taggart said in his post-game press conference that running back Darius Tice seemed like he had drank a Red Bull before the game. If this were true, Tice may have shared a can with every member of the Bulls offense.
The Huskies came into the game as a dark horse 15-point underdog, but as the week’s box scores played out, no program is safe from an early season upset.
Northern Illinois is no cakewalk, QB Drew Hare and WR Kenny Golloday were quite the tandem versus Wyoming in a triple overtime loss for NIU in week one. The Bulls handled their business despite a few rusty mistakes versus Towson.
This game was an opportunity to seal legitimacy for USF this season. After an 8–6 campaign last year, preseason murmurs lead to the Bulls being contenders in the American Athletic Conference.
The beat to Childish Gambino’s “Bonfire” rang throughout the stadium as the Bulls went up 24–0 and prepared to kickoff back to NIU. There was still another 11 minutes to go in the first half. The Bulls sideline was oozing with hype, confidence, and swagger.
To go with the confidence and swagger, the Bulls have established an identity that is hashtaggable.
“You can’t swim in the gulf coast, unless you’re a bull shark,” said coach Taggart when asked about the identity of the team.
In basketball, the 2005 Phoenix Suns coined an offense known as, “7 seconds or less”. A few years ago, the Oregon Ducks under Chip Kelly ran a spread offense paired with the hurry up, where defenses didn’t get a chance to breathe let alone substitute.
The trend is that sports are getting faster and faster. The Bulls hit NIU so hard and fast, that despite NIU having more time of possession in the first half, the Bulls were leading at the half 27–7.
From the second USF drive on, junior QB Quinton Flowers was bombing it down the field with reckless abandon and his receivers were winning one-on-ones down the sidelines.
“I like any of my guys one-on-one,” Flowers said. And he should. Flowers has a bevy of talent surrounding him. Wide receivers Rodney Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught 5 balls apiece. Scantling is a big target at 6’5. Adams displayed breakneck speed. Star running back Marlon Mack was suited up and available according to Taggart but was held out of the game after getting dinged up with a possible concussion in week 1. In Mack’s precautionary absence, Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson proved they were more than capable combining for 212 yards on the ground.
The Bulls offense is predicated on option runs, sweeps, and Flowers ability to scramble and get the ball deep.
Going forward with matchups against Syracuse and FSU, the Gulf Coast offense will be tested against better talent. The depth and endurance of the Bulls defense will be strained if the offense doesn’t play more possession ball.
After two weeks of college football upsets and near upsets, the Northern Illinois Huskies were not a team to take lightly.
Huskies Senior QB Drew Hare, WR Kenny Golloday, and All-American CB Shawun Lurry, were among the guys too watch. Lurry was hurt early. Hare took a hard hit in his endzone for a near safety in the middle of the 3rd quarter. Hare was carted off with a leg injury.
Golloday (4 rec, 43 yds) spent most of the game contained by Bulls corner Deatrick Nichols. The only Huskies player with moderate success was WR Aregero Turner who scored twice.
The Huskies are coming off an 8–6 season in the Mid-American Conference. They’ll get a shot at their first win against San Diego State in their first home contest.
There’s tempered expectations for Flowers going into his second season as the full-time starter for the Bulls.
Flowers had a career game against NIU going 21–33, 350 passing yds, 4 TD’s, 0 INT’s, and picking up 53 yds on the ground for good measure. Flowers had a career day setting personal bests in completions, attempts, and longest pass (73).
The throwing mechanics aren’t polished, and Flowers still avoids throwing over the middle of the field, but Flowers 3rd TD pass showed potential of him threading the needle. Flowers found Adams in the back of the endzone beating the the corner underneath and the safety over the top. If Flowers gets confident in his arm, Flowers may find his name on some awards ballots.
If Flowers can become more accurate on 10 yd routes, which have plagued him in the first two weeks, and can find more comfort in the pocket, the Bulls offense may find another gear.
The Bulls have made a formal pitch to move to the Big 12 Conference
Game attendance: 36,557. Student section: 7,252.
The Bulls allowed 0 sacks. No interceptions by either team.
Red Zone Scoring: Bulls 6 for 6. Huskies 3 for 3.
The USF Bulls head to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome next week, with a season marquis matchup when FSU comes to Raymond James in week 4 on September 24th.