Navy-USF notes: Bulls take cue from Tulane in slowing Midshipmen
In their efforts to somehow neutralize Navy's trademark triple-option, USF coaches found inspiration in an unlikely place.
Temple's defense? Nope. Tom Herman's? Nada. Tulane's? Bingo
Bulls coach Willie Taggart said his staff studied the five-man front the Green Wave employed in their 21-14 loss to Navy last month, when the Midshipmen ran for 287 yards, their third-lowest total of the season.
They also looked at Navy's 31-14 win in 2015, when Tulane limited the Midshipmen to 133 yards on the ground.
"That's a challenge for option football and I understand that," Taggart said.
"I ran the option (at Bradenton Manatee High and Western Kentucky). I knew what gave us trouble, and you watched Tulane do the same thing and it gave 'em trouble. And what it does is, it limits what they can do offensively, and they can't run the entire offense."
Employing the same "bear" front, USF held Navy to 140 rushing yards at halftime, when the Bulls led 42-14. Navy was scoreless on its first three drives, totaling only 13 plays.
"It helped our guys where we don't have to think much," Taggart said. "You have a guy, just play your guy and go."
MILLENNIAL MARK: The Bulls (629 total yards) and Midshipmen (616) combined for 1,245 total yards, edging last year's Miami Beach Bowl (1,209) for the most ever in a USF game.
The 97 combined points were the second-highest total in a Bulls contest. Navy scored touchdowns on its last five possessions, but came within single digits of the Bulls only once after the first period -- on Will Worth's 9-yard TD pass to Darryl Bonner on the game's last play.
"They're a team that's not gonna give up, so kudos to them," MLB Auggie Sanchez said. "That's where we need to get. We need to get to where if we're losing, we need to give 100 percent like they did. And hat's off to them."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls are 7-2 for only the third time in program history, and first since 2002. ... USF converted on its first 12 third-down tries before failing on its last two. ... TB Marlon Mack, who ran for 125 yards Friday, now has 3,206 for his career, putting him 13th on the state's all-time Division I list. He's now second on the Bulls' career all-purpose yardage list (3,623), trailing DeAndrew Rubin by 275 yards. ... QB Quinton Flowers enters Saturday as the nation's No. 1 rusher among quarterbacks with 921 yards. Louisville's Lamar Jackson, whose team plays at Virginia on Saturday, has 908. ... Navy's 616 yards were the fourth-most in program history. ... The 28 first-quarter points scored by USF were the most allowed in the opening period by Navy in 14 years.
AUDIBLE: "Our football team is still learning what it takes to be a champion. We don't know, we've never been a champion before. And championship football teams come ready to play every single week, and that's tough to do for 12 weeks. ... We're still learning to do that, and our guys have got to understand we've got to have that (energy) hell or high water." -- Taggart