Strong: When protection improves, so will Quinton Flowers
Eight quarters into his ultra-hyped senior season, QB Quinton Flowers' dual-threat dominance has been brandished only in spurts and stretches.
So far, he's averaging 267.5 total yards, roughly 50 fewer than he was at this point last season (318.5). At times, his dazzling improvisational skills have been stymied by a tendency -- or edict -- to remain in the pocket. At any rate, his next complete game of 2017 will be his first.
That will occur when his blocking improves, Coach Charlie Strong said Monday.
"It's all about just protecting the quarterback," Strong said on the weekly American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference.
Flowers already has been sacked six times. On Saturday, the Bulls managed only 153 rushing yards against a team bent on taking away the deep ball.
While that speaks to blocking (or the lack thereof), Flowers also struggled with misfires, miscommunication (including a throw badly behind WR Temi Alaka in the red zone) and drops.
"When we need to run the football, we've got to open up and that offensive line has got to move people off the line of scrimmage so you can establish the run game, (which) opens up the pass game for Quinton," Strong said. "When that doesn't happen, then you try to drop back and throw it and you have to protect him."
"It's not only Quinton, it's just making sure we get our offense going and everybody on the right track."
NO UCONN STARTER YET: UConn coach Randy Edsall said he likely will name a starting quarterback for the USF game on Tuesday.
The odds-on favorite is former starter Bryant Shirreffs, who came off the bench to rally the Huskies to a 27-20 win Thursday against I-AA Holy Cross. Shirreffs, who entered late in the third period, finished 9-of-13 for 124 yards, including an 11-yard TD pass for the game winner.
SPECIAL TEAMS SNAFUS: Strong reiterated Monday he feels the Bulls -- who already have had two punts blocked -- spend ample time each day on special teams. The problems with the punt protection stem from simple math, he suggested.
"It's just counting the (defensive) guys and just knowing where the pressure's coming from," he said. "You look at the one (blocked) on Saturday, a guy walked up late. You have enough blockers, now we just can't end up with two guys on one. You've just got to count 'em out and block."
ODDS AND ENDS: The swing pass to a tailback -- a staple of Willie Taggart's Gulf Coast Offense -- is nowhere to be found now. D'Ernest Johnson, who had 28 catches last season, has none this year, and wasn't even targeted Saturday. ... USF currently is tied for second nationally with five interceptions. Central Michigan had six in its three-overtime win against Rhode Island. ... Senior Tajee Fullwood ranks fourth nationally in punt returns (28.3 yards per attempt). ... Strong said ideally, he'd like to have a core of special-teams players -- eight or nine guys -- who are in on each phase. ... In their only previous meeting as head coaches, Strong's 2010 Louisville team pummeled Edsall and the Huskies, 26-0.