Bulls Hope to Rebound with a Strong Performance Saturday Night When They Host Howard University
By Space Coast Daily // September 10, 2022
COLLEE FOOTBALL PREVIEW
TAMPA, FLORIDA – USF defensive coordinator Bob Shoop said he’s confident that his unit will rebound with a strong performance Saturday night when the Bulls face Howard University at Raymond James Stadium.
“It’s less about Howard and more about us,” Shoop said. “We’ve got to correct the errors from the previous game. We’ve got to get our cleats in the ground. We’ve got to read our keys, we’ve got to attack and we’ve got to execute the fundamentals much better.”
In the season-opener, a 50-21 defeat against top 25 opponent BYU, USF’s defense allowed 575 yards. Before the Bulls ran their 10th play from scrimmage, they trailed 28-0 in the first quarter.
USF’s defense had difficulty lining up properly and reacting to BYU’s up-tempo offense, which was rarely seen during film study in 2021.
“Opening games are tricky because you can only go off things you saw on film from the previous season,” Shoop said. “The first quarter is usually about validating tendencies, then making adjustments as the game goes on. But as we were validating their tendencies, we were getting punched in the mouth.”
Shoop said he was disappointed in USF’s defensive performance but not discouraged, and he’s not about to rush to judgment after one game.
“The identity of our staff and our players is still to be determined,” Shoop said. “It was not a great start. It was not a good start. But we have another opportunity this Saturday and we’re not going to panic after one game or a handful of games.
“Our players have responded really well. Sometimes, I think kids are more resilient than adults. We know we’re going to get the best version of Howard, so it’s really about us being the best version of ourselves. We were not that (against BYU). So, you admit the mistake, you correct the behavior, you move on and you don’t repeat it. If it continues, that’s our identity. We didn’t start well, but we have a barometer now. So, we correct everything and see where we go from here.”
Shoop said he will continue to coach from the press box, his preferred vantage point, and he believes the communications and player alignment will run smoothly.
“If a D-lineman is out of his gap, his parents and the D-line coach will know,” Shoop said. “If a linebacker is out of his gap, maybe a few more people know and it’s a 10-yard gain. But if a DB (defensive back) is out of position and a guy goes uncovered, it’s a touchdown. It doesn’t take Todd Bowles (Tampa Bay Bucs coach) to say, ‘Something’s wrong here.’
“That’s what happened early for us. We’ve worked hard to clean it up. I’m not going to rush to judge things. We’re critiquing the performance, not the performer. We have a good system in place. We have good players. They did not get defensive or point fingers. They took accountability. We need to play better — and we will.”
Taking nothing for granted
USF offensive coordinator Travis Trickett said Bulls coaches had preached all week about playing to a winning standard and giving respect to Howard, a Football Championship Subdivision program.
“We need an attack mindset, everybody does their job, then we go and we’ll be fine,” Trickett said. “If you have that approach, it doesn’t matter if the New York Giants show up. We respect Howard. They have my full attention. I’ve been on that other sideline. I know what it’s like.”
Trickett was offensive coordinator at Samford University in 2013, when it visited Arkansas. Samford led 21-17 in the fourth quarter (before Arkansas prevailed 31-21). In 2014, Samford went to Auburn and led 7-0 in the second quarter (before Auburn pulled away 31-7).
In both cases, Trickett said the home fans were shocked and underdog Samford gained confidence.
“I’ve been on the other side and I know the psyche of how the (underdog) teams are perceived,” Trickett said. “We had to believe that we were going to do our job and do what we do. And we knew a lot of people were counting us out.
“I know the mindset of that other locker room, of knowing how people are looking at you and having that opportunity (for an upset). It’s all about 100 percent respecting Howard, then us doing our job, knowing our assignments, playing fast, being confident and getting it done. We absolutely have to play our best because we will get Howard’s best shot.”