TAMPA ― Ever since Charlie Strong left two timeouts on the board Thursday night during his team’s final offensive possession against Temple, social media has branded the beleaguered Bulls coach as everything from a poor clock manager to a quitter.
On Monday, Strong said his staff had a plan for the time stoppages on that final drive, and opting to keep them in his pocket as an act of concession definitely wasn’t part of it.
“You don’t ever give up on a game, and that’s the one thing we won’t ever do as a coaching staff, is give up on a game,” Strong said Monday during his weekly news conference. “We’re always gonna battle ’til the very end.”
The idea, Strong indicated, was to try and get to midfield before using them, but USF barely emerged from the shadow of its own end zone.
The Bulls (4-5, 2-3 American Athletic Conference) trailed the Owls 17-7 when they took over at their own 9 with 2:06 remaining. After a Jordan McCloud incompletion on first down, he connected with tight end Mitch Wilcox for a 4-yard gain on second.
McCloud then was sacked for an 8-yard loss on third down before hitting tailback Jordan Cronkrite for 11 yards on fourth and 14. ESPN’s broadcast crew lambasted the sequence, with analyst Pat McAfee blurting, “What the hell just happened?!”
“So what you were thinking and we were thinking, we get the ball to the 50-yard line, you’ve got two timeouts and you start using ’em then,” Strong said Monday. “But you want to get the ball to midfield and try to get us in a right play and get us in a situation where we can go score.”
McCloud corroborated that strategy immediately following the game, the Bulls’ 11th in their last 15 contests.
“We just wanted to get downfield a little bit more before we used ’em,” he said. “We wanted to be able to just get past the 50 at least before we used the timeouts.”
In other news Monday, Strong said the status of left tackle Donovan Jennings (ankle) and wildcat quarterback Jah’Quez Evans (concussion) will be evaluated later this week. Jennings was injured against Temple, and Evans sustained a hard shot in the first half against East Carolina two weeks ago.
Defensive tackle Kevin Kegler (unspecified injury) and tight end Jacob Mathis (virus), both of whom also missed the Temple game, are expected to play this week, Strong added.
Contact Joey Knight at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.