TAMPA ― In the span of 10 games, Bulls senior tailback Jordan Cronkrite has emerged as a ball-toting testament to a college season’s volatility.
Check out his personal time line: An anemic September, followed by a prolific October, which led to an historic November.
With 12 yards on his first two carries Saturday night against No. 17 Cincinnati, Cronkrite ― a University of Florida transfer ― entered the top 10 of USF’s career rushing yardage list. He now has 1,808 rushing yards (which ranks eighth) and 15 touchdowns in 22 career games with the Bulls.
“It just shows for me personally just a lot of the work that I put in,” Cronkrite, who was caught in a tailback logjam at Florida (302 rushing yards in two seasons) said earlier in the week.
“Obviously, things didn’t go well at my previous school, and then when I got here I just kept my head down and continued to work. Hat’s off to everybody here, they just kept me on an even keel here and just helped me push through.”
Despite a 511-yard October, Cronkrite’s quest for a second consecutive 1,000-yard season appears a long shot. Hindered by flimsy run protection and an offense consistently playing from behind, he managed only 76 yards on 33 carries in his first four games.
He had 78 yards on 20 carries in Saturday’s first half, giving him 687 for the season.
Norman’s streak snapped … sort of
With normal starting left tackle (and Gaither High alumnus) Donovan Jennings nursing an ankle injury, fifth-year senior Marcus Norman slid from the right side to replace him, snapping his streak of 43 consecutive starts at right tackle.
But his overall longevity remains embedded in USF lore.
His 44 consecutive starts are six shy of Auggie Sanchez’s program record.
Now that’s an attendance drive
The USF athletic department’s efforts to engage its student body have been kicked into a higher gear.
Which is to say, it is trying to coax students to sporting events by offering the chance to win a new car.
The school announced Friday that students who attend USF sporting events will build points toward a variety of prizes including a 2019 Ford EcoSport SE.
“USF students’ energy, passion and support are so vital to a tremendous home-field advantage and atmosphere for all of our athletic teams,” USF second-year athletic director Michael Kelly said in a school news release. “We wanted to do something big to show our appreciation and reward the most passionate students.”
Student attendance at home football and basketball games has ranged from solid to sparse in recent years.
The student section appeared half-full at best for the Nov. 7 home football game against Temple, where the announced attendance was 26,214. It appeared roughly 75 percent full Saturday, when kickoff temperature was 55 degrees. The announced turnout was 29,112.
The attendance issue is hardly unique to USF. Notre Dame’s 273-game home sellout streak, dating to 1973, ended with Saturday’s win over Navy. Average attendance nationally was the lowest in 22 years last season, according to CBSSports.com.
To enter the points competition, students must download and activate the HerdPerks app. Students’ attendance at sporting events will be logged via geofencing on the app.
Odds and ends
Spencer Shrader’s missed field goals of 53, 50 and 43 yards in the first half were the longest (or equal to the longest) the Bulls have tried all year. Coby Weiss missed a 43-yarder against Wisconsin on opening night. ... By halftime, sophomore linebacker Antonio Grier already had seven tackles (including two for loss), matching his season high. He finished with a team-high 10. ... Kevin Kegler’s first-half fumble recovery was USF’s 22nd of the season, eclipsing last season’s total.
Contact Joey Knight at email@example.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls