Amid criticism, USF’s Sterlin Gilbert says time needed to master offense

Critics have been snapping at USF offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's power-based system all season. Wednesday, he snapped back.
Through nine games, USF offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's unit is averaging 502.3 yards. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Through nine games, USF offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert's unit is averaging 502.3 yards. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published Nov. 16, 2017

Though most coaches prefer to insulate themselves from cyberspace during the season, Bulls offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert clearly has caught wind of the criticism heaped on his power-based, push-the-tempo system.

On Wednesday, he responded to it. Sort of.

During his weekly post-practice media session, when asked about WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling's current surge (338 receiving yards over his last two games), Gilbert said it's a result of the senior mastering a new system.

A system for which Bulls fans have had little patience.

"I just think that everyone, except us in this building and on this field, forgets this is a new offense, okay?" Gilbert said. "It's a new offense. Things are new, things are different."

With Connecticut's secondary playing off the ball in an effort to prevent deep throws, Valdes-Scantling had six catches for 152 yards, including a 95-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The Bulls also diversified on first down (passing 18 times and rushing 17), and finished with 602 total yards in the 37-20 win

Valdes-Scantling's 338 yards over his last two games are only 44 fewer than he totaled in his first seven.

"So it (takes) time," Gilbert said. "I know people don't want to say that word, it's a bad word, it's a four-letter word, but it is what it is."

Whether the catcalls resume Thursday night against Tulsa likely depends on how dive-heavy the Bulls go, or how many screen passes or jet sweeps are employed.

But the truth is, USF is averaging 502.3 total yards (ninth-most in Division I-A). This time last season, the Bulls averaged 502.9.

"It's just taken some time to figure everything out," Gilbert said. "We've obviously been in the process of speeding that up as fast as possible, but (Valdez- Scantling's) at a part of the season right now where he really understands and knows what's going on."