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Late arriving to USF football games? You aren’t missing much

The Bulls have scored 31 first-quarter points, second-fewest in the American Athletic Conference
South Florida offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) [CHRIS O'MEARA  |  AP]
South Florida offensive coordinator Kerwin Bell during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Wisconsin Friday, Aug. 30, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) [CHRIS O'MEARA | AP]
Published Nov. 13

TAMPA ― Maybe the late-arriving segment of USF’s home crowds, bent on maximizing every moment of tailgating, is on to something.

Aside from some neat parachute drops and other pregame pageantry, it hasn’t really missed much. The Bulls offense generally hasn’t shown up until the second quarter, or second half.

Entering Game 10, USF (4-5, 2-3) has totaled 31 first-quarter points this season, second-fewest in the American Athletic Conference. Only Tulsa (27) has been less productive in the opening period.

MORE BULLS: USF’s Charlie Strong: ‘You don’t ever give up on a game’

Naturally, first-year coordinator Kerwin Bell finds the tardy arrivals far more frustrating than fashionable.

“I’ve been preaching to our offense all week, we’ve got to start fast,” Bell said Wednesday. “If you look at the games where we didn’t start fast, we sort of got into a lull and we lost confidence, and we can’t have that.”

The lulls have been most prevalent at home. Four of the Bulls’ six scoreless first periods have occurred at Raymond James Stadium. In three of those four contests (Wisconsin, SMU, Temple), they failed to score in the first half.

Another sluggish start Saturday against No. 17 Cincinnati (8-1, 5-0) almost certainly will put USF one defeat from bowl ineligibility.

“We’ve got to go out when practice starts, just like it’s the game, and we’ve got to be ready to go and we’ve got to be successful early,” said Bell, adding this week’s practices have featured a “great pace.”

“And I think if we do, we’ve got a chance to put Cincinnati on their heels a little bit.”

In other USF news, Bell said he’s not optimistic of either left tackle Donovan Jennings (ankle) or wildcat quarterback Jah’Quez Evans (concussion protocol) returning to the lineup this week.

Jennings was injured in last weekend’s 17-7 loss to Temple, and Evans exited late in the first half of the Oct. 26 win at East Carolina.

“(Right tackle) Marcus Norman might go over and play some of the left side a little bit,” Bell said. “We’ve got (Jarrett) Hopple that came in and played there, and he’ll play some. So we’re just trying to find the right combinations.”

Bursting (or stumbling) out of the block

A look at the first-quarter point totals of every American Athletic Conference team

UCF: 153

SMU: 107

Navy: 86

Cincinnati: 80

Memphis: 79

Houston: 75

East Carolina: 72

Tulane: 68

Temple: 55

Connecticut: 41

USF: 31

Tulsa: 27


  1. The first time they met, Jeff Scott was a 14-year-old following his father's footsteps and Michael Kelly was fresh out of college. A quarter-century later, Kelly has entrusted Scott to take the USF football program to a new level. "I knew instinctively this day would come for him, but I never knew it would align for the two of us to be together,'' Kelly said. [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    John Romano | South Florida is a program with little history and loads of potential, and Scott is a hotshot young coach looking to make a name for himself.
  2. New FAU coach Willie Taggart faces one of his old teams, USF, on Sept. 26, 2020 in Boca Raton. [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [JONES, OCTAVIO  |  Tampa Bay Times]
    He moves to his fourth program in the past 36 months. Adding intrigue to the hire, FAU hosts USF in 2020.
  3. (From left) USF Bulls mascot 'Rocky the Bull", new USF football coach Jeff Scott, his wife Sara and their 4-year-old daughter Savannah pose for photos after his announcement at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center on Wednesday [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    The fifth football coach in USF history seems to hit all the right notes to a standing-room-only crowd
  4. LSU players celebrate after the Southeastern Conference championship NCAA college football game against Georgia, Saturday, Dec. 7, 2019, in Atlanta. LSU won 37-10. [JOHN BAZEMORE  |  AP]
    “Members of Congress care about college sports. They recognize how important it is to American society."
  5. Jeff Scott is introduced as the new USF football coach at the Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center in Tampa on Wednesday, [OCTAVIO JONES | Times] [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    Signs and sound bites indicate the Clemson co-offensive coordinator was the Bulls’ top choice all along
  6. Jeff Scott is introduced as the new USF Bulls head football coach at the University of South Florida Sam and Martha Gibbons Alumni Center in Tampa, Florida on Wednesday, December 11, 2019.  [OCTAVIO JONES  |  Times]
    In fact, here’s how he did it as a Clemson walk-on in 2001
  7. In this Jan. 5 file photo, Clemson Tigers co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott speaks with media during media day at the SAP Center prior to the College Football Playoff national championship game  vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. [ADAM LACY  |]
    Scott will be the sixth assistant to keep working for a College Football Playoff team while serving as an incoming head coach elsewhere.
  8. New USF football coach Jeff Scott receives a de facto $500,000 signing bonus on Jan. 17, 2020. [ JACOB KUPFERMAN  |]
    The former Clemson co-offensive coordinator must pay USF $2.5 million if he leaves on his own before Dec. 31 2020.
  9. New USF coach Jeff Scott has spent the last 12 seasons on the staff at Clemson, his alma mater. [ADAM LACY  |]
    The fifth Bulls coach in program history will appear at the Sam & Martha Gibbons Alumni Center.
  10. Clemson co-offensive coordinator Jeff Scott talks with receivers Mike Williams (7) and Artavis Scott (3) during a 2016 game at FSU. Scott was named USF's coach Monday. [DAVID GROOMS/CAL SPORT MEDIA  |]
    Though not the bay area’s primary recruiter for Clemson, Scott’s fingerprints are all over the region.