TAMPA — USF is not streaming its April 9 spring football game online or broadcasting it elsewhere to add a layer of mystery to the Bulls’ Sept. 3 opener against BYU.
“I would rather them figure out the first half of the game in the fall … than to just put it on a platter and show them,” coach Jeff Scott said Thursday.
Scott’s rationale is specific to his 2022 roster and staff. The Bulls’ newcomers include a dozen Division I-A transfers. Many of them will see significant action this fall, including receiver Ajou Ajou (Clemson), offensive lineman Mike Lofton (UCF) and defensive back Amaris Brown (Kansas State). If the Cougars’ staff can watch video of those players at USF, they’ll be able to prepare for them better.
Scott knows that from experience. When he was an assistant at Clemson in 2008, the Tigers opened against Alabama and a massive junior college transfer named Terrence Cody.
“We had no idea who he was until the game started, and we figured out we couldn’t block him,” Scott said. “We wish we would have known about it earlier.”
Scott is trying to replicate that advantage with his newcomers.
The Bulls also will look different thanks to new coordinators on offense (Travis Trickett) and defense (Bob Shoop), which adds another layer to Scott’s decision. Trickett hasn’t been a coordinator since 2017-18 (Georgia State), and Shoop last held that title in 2018-19 (Mississippi State). That means the Cougars will have to break down dated video of the assistants’ schemes and guess how they’ve changed after spending time elsewhere.
Scott said the advantage isn’t about specific plays (which are usually vanilla in a spring game, anyway). It’s about alignment. How do the defensive linemen position themselves? Is the running back a yard behind the line or a yard and a half?
“Things that maybe a normal fan watching a game wouldn’t notice, but coaches seeing that, you can kind of see the DNA,” Scott said.
And if it takes a series or two to understand those details in September, that could make the difference in a game that was decided by one score last year and in 2019.
The tradeoff is that fans who can’t be at Raymond James Stadium next weekend will have less access to the team at a time where the Bulls are drumming up support as they push for an on-campus stadium. Scott called that side effect “unfortunate.”
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“I hate it for some of the fans that maybe won’t be able to make it,” Scott said, “but I think the No. 1 thing that all fans want to do is win.”
And he believes this decision in the spring will boost his team’s chances of making that happen in the fall.
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