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USF journal: Bulls’ Homecoming to kick off at night

The Bulls' Oct. 20 contest against Connecticut will begin at 7 p.m.
USF defensive back Mike Hampton (7), a Hillsborough High alumnus, is tied for fifth nationally in passes defended (2.0 per game). OCTAVIO JONES | Times
USF defensive back Mike Hampton (7), a Hillsborough High alumnus, is tied for fifth nationally in passes defended (2.0 per game). OCTAVIO JONES | Times
Published Oct. 8, 2018

The American Athletic Conference announced Monday that the Bulls' Oct. 20 Homecoming game against Connecticut will kick off at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on CBS Sports Network.

The contest is USF's only October home game. The Bulls are 6-1 all-time at home against the Huskies.

Pass coverage porous 

Strong suggested that the Bulls' pass defense slacked off late in Saturday's game, when UMass scored on a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown throws, but problems persisted throughout USF's 58-42 victory.

The Minutemen's first TD pass of the game, a 31-yarder from Andrew Ford to Brennon Dingle when the Bulls were blitzing, resulted in part from a missed tackle. On the second, Ford rolled to his left and threw against his body for 13 yards to WR Samuel Emilus, who appeared uncovered in the back of the end zone.

UMass finished with 401 passing yards. Senior WR Andy Isabella had 13 catches for 191 yards, including a 53-yard TD in the third period. Isabella leads the nation with 839 receiving yards (in seven contests).

"We knew this, that Isabella was gonna be a problem for us," Strong said.

"We knew we had to cover him, but we turned guys loose which we shouldn't do, should never happen, especially when you're playing man coverage. … But that can be corrected, we just can't give up that many yards and end up giving them the touchdowns that we gave 'em there late in the game."

Odds and ends

In the wake of his 302-yard performance at UMass, Bulls TB Jordan Cronkrite now is third nationally in rushing yards per game (151.5). … Strong was vague when asked about the status of injured running backs Duran Bell and Elijah Mack, who have been sidelined the last three and two contests, respectively. "We just don't know the exact date when they're gonna be back, but they're coming along, they're working hard," he said. Eventually we'll get 'em back." … CB Mike Hampton, who had an interception and pass breakup Saturday, now is tied for fifth nationally in passes defended (2.0 per game).

RELATED: USF's Jordan Cronkrite named AAC  Offensive Player of the Week

Milestone watch

A victory Friday at Tulsa would improve USF's record to 34-6 since the beginning of the 2015 season, which would establish a program record for victories in a four-year span. Jim Leavitt's Bulls teams went 34-18 from 2006-09.

Audible

"Someone said something about it, 'He's got this many yards.' And then I said, 'Let's just leave him in there 'til he gets 300.' … We were playing him and (Johnny) Ford, because Ford ended up having 77 yards himself with two touchdowns. But he deserved it. The offensive line did a great job of blocking, even with the tight ends. Unbelievable job of blocking." — Strong, on Cronkrite's 302-yard performance Saturday

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