INTRO: So little to complain about with the 2017 Bulls. The offense scores a lot. The defense doesn’t allow much and the team in general has shown fight, resilience and pride.
Conclusion: Want to state it early. Bulls can be better with a few adjustments.
Watching every snap of the Bulls this season, the only concerns are slow starts, red-zone stalls at times and the lack of uniform variety versus 2016. Loved all them home uniform looks. After evaluating the numbers, they pretty much align with the game observations. Here is where we think South Florida can be better.
- Quarterback Quinton Flowers is having another stellar season. Making plays on the ground and through the air (1955 pass, 751 rush). The Bulls have the opportunity to increase their yards per pass attempt which currently sits at 7.8 yards. Numbers suggest the inability to stretch the field and attack the intermediate zones. Heavy screen and quick pass attack has been good to them.
- Bulls are 6th in the conference in pass yards per attempt in comparison to conference leader UCF (10.4). FBS national leader Oklahoma is averaging 12.1 yards per pass attempt.
- As the Bulls are completing 55.4 percent of their passes per game, the offense starts slow in the first period. Flowers and the offense, completing just 38.9 percent of passes in the first quarter. If you have seen the Bulls play, you know the numbers are supported. Compare the first quarter statistic to that in the remaining three quarters when the Bulls get going: Q2 – 57.4%, Q3 – 59.8% and Q4 – 62.5%.
- Bulls don’t have a problem scoring points. Do pretty well. We would like to see the red-zone passing improved slightly. Easier said than done when an offense runs out of real estate and the playbook is cut in half. More RPO (Run, Pass, Option) plays deep in the opponents territory could help improve the 49.9 completion percentage (15/35 in the red-zone).
- Red-zone rushing has taken a hit. Just 2.98 average yards per attempt inside the +20. 112 attempts have resulted in 20 rushing TDs in that area of the field. If every time the Bulls were in the red-zone, they were at the 3 yard line, then all is good. Further out, the rushing attempt average can be improved. This is attached with the pass threat. More balance in the red-zone will improve this statistic.
- Houston is the 7th best rushing offense, yards per game in the American Conference (178.6 Y/G) and 8th best in yards per attempt (4.58). USF rushing defense allowed 255 yards to Houston and 5.31 Y/Att and lost the game. Note: USF is the top defense in the conference when defending the run. Allowing 118.2 yards per game. The 5.31 to Houston was far past what the Bulls usually allow (3.25 Y/Attm). USF is ranked 13th nationally in run defense compared to TCU, #1 allowing just 69.7 Y/G.
- Second half rush defense for the Bulls needs some beef. Teams are rushing for 4.36 yards an attempt. Hold up, in the first half the Bulls are fresher and stronger not giving up much on the ground (2.26 Y/Attm).
- Watch this: In Tampa, at Raymond James Stadium, The boys in green have produced 20 sacks. Outside of Florida, on the road…just 8 sacks. Could that affect the 3rd down pass defense? It may. Don’t look too deep into it. But a great pass rush can positively affect pass coverage. 61.9% = Pass completions against the Bulls on 3rd down with 4-6 yards to go. 62.5% = Pass completions against the Bulls on 3rd down with 7-9 yards to go. The top teams nationally are holding teams to 40 percent or less in these situations. USF is in the bottom quarter nationally in both situations.
- Just going to say this, with so much positive to highlight and a few improvements as listed, the return game for the Bulls is not good. No other way to put it. Punt Return average = 9.72. Washington is averaging 21.1, Kentucky – 20.8 and even UCF is 18.5. Much of the same when speaking on the Kickoff Return game. Bulls only averaging 16.38 yards per return. Wyoming is getting out to the -30 on a regular basis. Florida State is ranked 12th in KOR average (25.78), UCF is ranked 19th (24.89) and even the Gators who are just…well you know…they have a 19.9 KOR yard average.