- The USF Bulls began their 2023 season on the road against the Westen Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Bulls came out in their road all-white jerseys and helmets under perfect weather conditions and a beautiful blue sky. The crowd in attendance was very moderate with many USF fans in it. The Hilltoppers play in Conference USA where USF was once a member from 2001-2005. This game was the first under head coach Alex Golesh and the fans have much hope. The Hilltoppers were coming off a great 2022 season finishing with a nine-win season. The experts had this game as a one-sided affair with Western Kentucky easily winning. But would USF have anything to say about it?
Western Kentucky won the toss but deferred to the second half. The USF Bulls took the ball and got in their hurry-up offense very similar to the one Golesh ran at the University of Tennessee. The starting quarterback was Byrum Brown and many were not surprised about him being named the starter. Gerry Bohanon is coming off an injury and if Brown struggles this year he will take over. One of the features that made the offense so effective was very similar to last year with a running-style quarterback. Brown showed his ability to make things happen with his legs. Just like in 2022, the USF Bulls were not afraid to go for it on fourth down. Twice in this game, the Bulls went for it resulting in two touchdowns. The defense held the Hilltoppers even though they ran their type of offense.
At the half, the score was tied at 17. The USF Bulls offense mixed in the run and pass and looked efficient. A part of the ball that is not talked about in college football a lot is special teams. This was a bright spot for the Bulls with great punt coverage. Punter, Andrew Stokes had two great punts. Even when he did not have a good one the coverage would swarm the WKU returner. As both teams came out of the half we all wanted to see what adjustments had been made. The Hilltoppers took the ball down the field to start the second half to take a 24-17 lead. The Bulls, with their high-octane offense, answered right back very quickly to tie the game at 24. The Bulls’ defense held its own but like in 2022, looked tired near the end of the game.
The Hilltoppers took over the game after that. One of the biggest problems the USF Bulls had in the game was their three turnovers. Trailing 31-24, Brown threw an interception while the Bulls were on the four-yard line. Many will say that was the nail in the coffin. That happened too much in 2022. Trying to inch closer, the Bulls’ final drive would end badly. WKU would strip sack Brown and that would result in another touchdown. That iced the game giving them a 41-24 victory.
The problems I saw were Brown overthrowing open wide receivers, penalties, and turnovers as the Bulls had three and WKU had none. The Bulls will have their home opener this upcoming Saturday against the FAMU Rattlers.
What was your take on how the USF Bulls did in game one? Leave a comment below.
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