The Bulls are now 1-0 on the young season after defeating the Towson Tigers 56-20 in front of 35,976 fans. This was a team effort that required the offense to do their part and the same as the defense. The offense tallied up 230 passing yards (NET) and 214 rushing yards (NET) on 41 carries. The defense only allowed 20 points and a total of 292 combined yards. This was a perfect game to get the season going, as they take on Northern Illinois next Saturday in Raymond James Stadium.
Now, there were many big plays and overall games by multiple players, but only five guys will make this list, as the ones who are named stood out to mostly the public, which the list includes Quinton Flowers, Nigel Harris, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Rodney Adams, and Darius Tice.
First off, Quinton Flowers started the game shaky in the passing department by going three-for-seven with one passing touchdown and one interception, but eventually he got going and caught on fire throughout the rest of the game, where after the first seven passes, he went on to complete five-out-of-eleven passes for 98 passing yards and throwing one more score. Now, Head Coach Willie Taggart takes some of the blame on Flowers struggles out of the gate, as he came out and said in his press conference “I didn’t make it easy on him, I said let’s go deep and I didn’t get him a chance to get warmed up.” Most importantly, Flowers usually has better passing games, but his abilities to use his legs kept plays alive, get crucial first downs, and to find the end zone with them. He finished the night on the ground with nine carries for 46 yards (NET) for a 5.1 average per carry to go along with two scores.
Next, Senior linebacker Nigel Harris was the first defensive player on the Bulls to stand out in the first half, which he played some of the second half, but he got nicked up and missed plays, but the Bulls were already winning by a large margin. Harris recorded the Bulls and his first sack of the season, which he only had great things to say about it. Harris came out to the press and said “my eyes just got so big and it felt so great, I did it for my teammates, also my defensive end Mike Love he made a note to coach that the offensive tackle was offsetting pretty hard so I made a check inside to the B gap.” Along with the one sack, Harris finished the night with six tackles (two solos, four assists) with one interception that he returned for 49-yards. Coach Taggart was excited for Nigel when he picked that ball off and saying “I was hoping he would have gotten in the end zone to solidify somethings and Nigel needed a game like that to solidify his off-season.”
Back to the offensive side of the ball, Marquez Valdes-Scantling made his USF debut after sitting out of last season from transferring from North Carolina State to the University of South Florida. He made a nice impression in front of the fans, his coaches and teammates by grabbing three passes for 79 yards, which one pass resulted in a 51-yard touchdown. His first career catch was a 28-yard pass in the open field that helped set up Marlon Mack score on a five-yard run. Marquez spoke on his performance by coming out and saying “I felt like I left some stuff out on the field, but there is definitely more room for improvement.”
Furthermore, with Marlon Mack leaving the game early due to an injury, D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice stepped up big time, which I figure, as they are capable of playing anywhere in the nation, but Darius Tice wins this battle out of the two. Tice kicked off his 2016 campaign by catching his only pass of the game for a 43-yard score by shaking the defenders out of their shoes. This was the Bulls first touchdown of the season. He did pick up 32 yards on six hard fought carries, which rounds up to 5.3 yards per carry.
Finally, Rodney Adams was the utility man tonight by providing solid play from the returning game, and either catching or running the football. The St. Pete native picked up two receptions for only 20 yards, but the biggest play by a USF player tonight was by him, as it was a 52-yard kickoff return. Adams picked up 37 yards (NET) on the ground, while running the ball four times and scoring once. Interestingly, he picked up 9.2 yards per attempt with his longest run sneaking in at 17 yards. Taggart was a happy fellow when Adams stepped up to the plate and Taggart thought “Rodney got us going on one of those plays and got us playing better offensively.”