It’s starting to look like USF isn’t good this season. They’re bad. The Bulls are currently 1-3, and only have a couple more games where they might be favored to win.
USF only has one win since October 20th of last season. It was a FCS win. That’s good for 9 straight FBS losses. After a promising start under Charlie Strong, the program has seemed to unravel.
The truth is, even though USF made a bowl game last season, they weren’t that good. Of 2018’s 7 wins, 5 of those teams didn’t make a bowl game. Another of those games was against FCS Elon. The only “good” team they beat was Georgia Tech, and their triple option. A lot of those wins were closer than they should have been, on paper.
The problem wasn’t just that the schedule started as a joke in 2018, and finished with a string of bowl teams. It was more a matter of replacing Quinton Flowers. Flowers was the best QB in USF history. He was an elusive runner, who could extend plays. As a passer, Flowers was explosive, especially getting the ball to his weapons downfield.
Blake Barnett, the Alabama and Arizona State transfer who was once a 5 star recruit, made his way to Tampa. He was going to be the guy that transitioned USF into a new era, in the wake of Flowers’ departure.
The issue is that he had trouble finding the field at other schools for a reason and it is starting to show at Tampa. He might have the tools, and size, but Barnett struggles to read defenses beyond his first read. Good teams have taken advantage of it.
Sterlin Gilbert was going to be the scapegoat, but he left for a new job on his own. Now, Kerwin Bell has taken over the offense. Bell is a Division II offensive genius, but it hasn’t caught on yet, as USF is only averaging 10.3 points per game against FBS teams in 2019.
Blake Barnett has been benched for the young Jordan McCloud.
The USF offense has talent, especially at skill positions. They’re going through an existential crisis though. They don’t know their identity, and it doesn’t take much to see that they’re afraid their new identity is being a bunch of losers.
When things get tough, the energy leaves the USF sideline. Why should it stay? Their head coach, Charlie Strong, is quiet and monotone. It has been known since day one that Strong was going to run to the first Power 5 job that came to call. Strong isn’t getting his players excited. The empty stands aren’t worth playing for, and neither are the blowout games.
USF needs a renaissance. They need a reality check, a new coach, and a culture change. The Bulls are going through something similar to UCF in 2015. UCF had an old school coach, whose offense was failing. UCF was losing games, and losing them badly. The stands were empty. The Knights had no fight back then.
Then Scott Frost came in, and revolutionized the UCF program. Everyone knows how it has gone from there. USF needs their Scott Frost.
USF needs a high energy coach, who players want to play for. They need a coach who fixes the offense. They need the culture to change. They need a chip on their shoulder, and to expect to win.
ECU just got their coach to bring the program back in Mike Houston, Tulane has had their guy in Willie Fritz. Now USF needs theirs. An explosive, offensive coach. They need a young coach. They need a charismatic leader.
If USF can put the right coach in place, then they can get back on track. USF is in the middle of fertile recruiting grounds, in an exciting conference. Add in better facilities, and USF could be a NY6 contender on an annual basis.
USF needs to look at the coming weeks as an opportunity to get a head start on the search for a new head coach and aim for a complete overhaul. With Rutgers moving on from Chris Ash, the 2020 coaching carousel has already begun and the Bulls can’t afford to lag behind other competitors for the next great head coach.