Tennessee Offensive Coordinator/Tight Ends coach Alex Golesh runs on the field before the Tennessee football season opener game against Ball State in Knoxville, Tenn. on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2022.

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Reports: USF set to hire Tennessee OC Alex Golesh

South Florida is set to make Tennessee offensive coordinator Alex Golesh its new head coach, multiple outlets reported Saturday night.

Golesh, 38, would replace Jeff Scott, who was fired in November after a 1-8 start. Special teams coordinator Daniel Da Prato finished out the season as interim head coach. The Bulls finished 1-11.

The Volunteers led the nation in total offense and scoring offense under Golesh this past season. Golesh is also a Broyles Award finalist for best assistant coach.

–Field Level Media

Oct 8, 2022; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; South Florida Bulls running back Brian Battie (21) runs with the ball against the Cincinnati Bearcats in the first half at Nippert Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

Underwhelming seasons collide when Tulsa faces USF

South Florida and host Tulsa will chase down a rare victory when the teams meet Friday night.

The two American Athletic Conference programs find themselves at the bottom of the standings, with the Bulls owning the cellar due to an eight-game skid. Tulsa is standing right outside the door after dropping three straight.

USF (1-9, 0-6) earned its only win when it defeated FCS Howard 42-20 on Sept. 10 in Week 2. The campaign’s low point occurred Nov. 6 when the Bulls fired head coach Jeff Scott after a 54-28 road loss to Temple.

Interim head coach Daniel Da Prato stepped in Saturday against SMU. The Bulls played better at times, forging a 17-17 tie at halftime before succumbing in a 41-23 setback on their home field.

“Obviously, a difficult week for our young men and for our department. We were able to fight through that for the week and we came out and I’m proud of our kids and their effort,” Da Prato said. “But at the end of the day you play this game to win.”

Quarterback Katravis Marsh was stretchered off the field in the fourth quarter but was “in good spirits, with movement in his extremities,” according to Da Prato.

Running back Brian Battie recorded his third straight 100-yard game, with 145 on the ground, and is within 127 yards of the school’s 10th 1,000-yard rushing season.

In its home finale Friday, ninth-place Tulsa (3-7, 1-5) will try to avoid slipping into last place by improving on offense. Behind quarterbacks Davis Brin and Braylon Braxton, the Golden Hurricane offense generated just 207 yards in Saturday’s 26-10 loss to Memphis. The pair combined to go 17 of 37 for 176 passing yards.

Through its first three games, Tulsa’s offense topped FBS schools with over 43 points per game and 413 passing yards per game, but it has regressed with Brin’s injuries and Braxton’s inconsistency.

“Early in the season, I thought we were hitting on all cylinders and things were coming together,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “Where I thought this offense was going to be able to go is in a totally different end of the spectrum than where we are right now.”

USF holds a 3-2 edge in the all-time series, but Tulsa has won the past two meetings — 32-31 last season in Tampa and 42-13 in 2020 at Tulsa.

–Field Level Media

Sep 17, 2022; Gainesville, Florida, USA;South Florida Bulls head coach Jeff Scott prior to the game against the Florida Gators at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida fires coach Jeff Scott

South Florida, in the midst of a 1-8 season, fired head football coach Jeff Scott on Sunday.

Special teams coordinator Daniel Da Prato was named interim head coach for the rest of the season.

“When Jeff came to Tampa in December of 2019, we had high expectations for where he could take our football program,” athletic director Michael Kelly said in a statement. “While he did so many things right, including rebuilding our culture, pushing forward our Indoor Performance Facility, and engaging our community, the on-the-field results fell well below our standards. He is a tremendous person and class individual and we wish him, Sara, Savannah and Hunter all the best in the future.”

The Bulls lost their seventh straight game Saturday when host Temple pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 54-28 win. South Florida is 0-5 against American Athletic Conference opponents and won its only game against Howard, an FCS opponent.

Scott was hired ahead of the 2020 season after serving as Clemson’s wide receivers coach, run game coordinator and co-offensive coordinator between 2008 and 2019. He originally signed a five-year deal and also inked a two-year extension following the 2021 season.

But South Florida went just 4-26 under Scott, including a paltry 1-19 in conference.

“I would like to thank our players, coaches and staff members for all their hard work during my time as the head coach at USF,” Scott said in a statement. “I especially want to thank USF President Rhea Law and Vice President/Director of Athletics Michael Kelly for giving me the incredible opportunity to lead the football program the last three years. I will miss this team and will do anything in my power to help them in the future. I am disappointed that our hard work didn’t translate to more success on the field, but I am confident that we have set a new foundation. I know the future of USF football is bright and my family and I will always remember our time at USF as a very special chapter in our lives.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 29, 2022; Annapolis, Maryland, USA; Temple Owls quarterback E.J. Warner (13) throws an interception in overtime against the Navy Midshipmen at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brent Skeen-USA TODAY Sports

Temple hosts USF as both teams search for first AAC win

Temple and South Florida are the only teams yet to win a game in American Athletic Conference play this season.

Off to 0-4 starts in league play, Temple and USF are hoping to emerge with the elusive AAC victory when the teams convene Saturday afternoon in Philadelphia.

Temple (2-6, 0-4 AAC) has dropped conference games to Memphis, Central Florida, Tulsa and Navy. The Owls absorbed a 70-13 loss to UCF on Oct. 13, took an early 10-point lead in a 27-16 loss at Tulsa and succumbed in overtime during last week’s 27-20 loss to Navy.

Amad Anderson Jr. caught a 20-yard touchdown for the Owls and finished with eight receptions for 114 yards. E.J. Warner, the son of Kurt Warner, completed 24 of 48 passes for 268 yards and was intercepted twice.

Perhaps the most encouraging sign came from the defense’s showing against Navy’s triple-option. The Owls conceded 224 yards from scrimmage — well below Navy’s 370 yards per game entering last week.

“We prepared very well for the triple-option,” Temple linebacker Jordan Magee said. “We just didn’t get the outcome.”

USF (1-7, 0-4) enters Saturday allowing a league-worst 38.1 points per game and a league-worst 488.4 yards per contest. The Bulls are also on a six-game losing streak since getting their only win over Howard on Sept. 10.

Since entering league play, USF has losses to East Carolina, Cincinnati, Tulane and Houston. After allowing three touchdowns in a span of 6:30 in the second half in its 45-31 loss to Tulane, the Bulls allowed 490 yards in last week’s 42-27 loss at Houston.

Katravis Marsh started at quarterback for the first time for the Bulls and completed 24 of 34 passes for a touchdown and 275 yards. He is expected to start again at Temple after starter Gerry Bohannon suffered a season-ending shoulder injury Oct. 15.

“Most improvement in the quarterback position is typically from the first game as a starter to that second game so I expect to see him build off of this performance and continue to improve next week and as we move forward,” USF coach Jeff Scott said.

Temple has won five of eight all-time meetings, though USF recorded a 34-14 home win last season.

–Field Level Media

Dec 29, 2021; New York, NY, USA; Maryland Terrapins quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa (3) rolls out in the first half during the 2021 Pinstripe Bowl against the Virginia Tech Hokies at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Underdog Buffalo preparing for Maryland’s passing attack

A major point of emphasis in the offseason for Buffalo coach Maurice Linguist was explosive plays — both how to create them and how to stop them.

When heavy underdog Buffalo of the MAC travels to Maryland of the Big Ten in both teams’ season opener Saturday in College Park, Md., the Bulls will get a rigorous test of the latter.

Coming off a year in which he set single-season program records in passing yards (3,860), accuracy (69.2 percent) and touchdowns (26), Terps quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa is primed to improve on those numbers.

He will operate an offense that returns nearly intact, including his top two receivers Rakim Jarrett (62 catches, 829 yards) and Dontay Demus Jr. (28 catches, 507 yards).

“The plan they put together … is a very vertical passing attack,” Linguist said. “They can stretch the field horizontally as well.”

In his fourth season at Maryland, Mike Locksley is looking to take another step forward. The Terps went 7-6 last year and are looking to make noise in the Big Ten after another strong year of recruiting.

“The most improved unit on our team is our offensive line,” Locksley said. “I like our young running backs, the power that they run (with) as well as the different skill sets they all bring.”

Achieving that against the strong front seven of Buffalo, led by linebacker James Patterson and tackle Daymond Williams, won’t be easy.

Coming off a 4-8 season, which was Linguist’s first as a head coach, Buffalo also is looking to make more big plays on offense. To that end, Linguist has named Rutgers transfer Cole Snyder the quarterback over incumbent Matt Myers.

In three seasons at Rutgers, Snyder appeared in nine games, throwing one touchdown pass. He’ll have a quality wideout to throw to in Quian Williams, who had 64 catches for 835 yards last year.

Buffalo has only three starters back on offense but the unit is an unknown quantity as several transfers from Power 5 conference schools, in addition to Snyder, will take over starting spots.

Last year’s top rusher Dylan McDuffie (1,049 yards) transferred to Georgia Tech, leaving Ron Cook Jr. as the top backfield threat.

This will be the first meeting of the programs.

–Field Level Media

Sep 18, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA;  Houston Cougars wide receiver Nathaniel Dell (1) celebrates his touchdown during the first half against the Grambling State Tigers at TDECU Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Epic win, national ranking propel No. 20 Houston into USF matchup

No. 20 Houston will ride a wave of momentum created by a seven-game win streak and an electric victory when it plays South Florida on Saturday night in an American Athletic Conference game in Tampa.

Houston (7-1, 5-0) heads to South Florida after a rousing 44-37 home victory over previously undefeated SMU last week.

Houston won on Marcus Jones’ 100-yard kickoff return in the final seconds.

The win allowed Houston its first ranking in the Top 25 since Oct. 28, 2018, when it landed at No. 17. The team remained in the poll for just one week.

The Cougars’ win streak is their longest since winning eight straight from Nov. 27, 2015-Sept. 29, 2016.

“Any time you get an emotional game like that, whether you win or whether you lose, you’ve gotta move on,” Houston coach Dana Holgorsen said. “We’re in a good spot. We’re 5-0 and in first place in the conference, so how hard do we want to work to stay there? That’s going to be the message going forward.”

The Cougars also received huge performances from wide receiver Nathaniel Dell (nine catches for 165 yards and three touchdowns) and quarterback Clayton Tune (a career-high 412 yards and four touchdowns passing) to survive SMU.

Dell posted the first three-TD performance for a Cougars receiver since 2018 and garnered AAC offensive player of the week honors. Jones received the conference’s special-teams player of the week award for his game-winning, walk-off return.

Houston is one of two unbeaten teams in the AAC — along with No. 2 Cincinnati — and will need to continue to win to qualify for the AAC championship game on Dec. 4.

South Florida (2-6, 1-3) returns home with anything but momentum following a 29-14 loss at East Carolina on Oct. 28, the Bulls’ fourth setback in the past five games.

The Bulls’ defense forced three turnovers in the loss, played in periodic heavy rain, but South Florida lost the ball four times – on a fumble and three interceptions, one of which was return by East Carolina for a TD.

Freshman Katravis Marsh passed for 192 yards and a touchdown in his second career start at quarterback for the Bulls, and Kelly Joiner Jr. ran for 103 yards on just 12 carries. South Florida averaged 6.4 yards per snap on just 60 plays but were doomed by turnovers.

The Bulls were 0 for 7 on third-down conversion attempts and 2 of 4 on fourth-down tries, and struggled mightily in the second half after going to the break ahead 14-6.

“It was a disappointing finish,” South Florida coach Jeff Scott said. “I felt like our guys played pretty well in the first half. But in the second half, we just couldn’t get off the field on third down and we couldn’t convert on third down. That’s kind of where the game was won and lost right there in the second half.

“Hopefully this nine-day break that we’re going to have before the next game will give us a chance to get some things figured out.”

Houston and South Florida are meeting for the eighth time, with the Cougars holding a 5-2 edge highlighted by five consecutive victories (2013-present).

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Provo, Utah, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Timmy McClain (9) looks to pass in the second quarter against the Brigham Young Cougars at LaVell Edwards Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida’s AAC losing streak looms large against Tulsa

Tulsa will be looking to remain in the conference title hunt while South Florida will just be seeking a win period when the two teams meet in an American Athletic Conference clash Saturday afternoon in Tampa, Fla.

The Golden Hurricane (2-4, 1-1 AAC) have won two of their last three outings after holding on for a 35-29 win over Memphis last week while the Bulls (1-4, 0-1) are coming off an open date with only a win over Florida A&M, an FCS foe, on the positive side of their ledger.

The Bulls have not won a league game since Nov. 26, 2019, when they beat East Carolina 45-20. Their conference losing streak reached 12 games with their 41-17 loss to SMU in their last outing.

Second-year coach Jeff Scott sees the open date as a chance to refocus the season.

“Our season is not going to be determined by our first five games,” he said. “It’s really going to be determined by our last seven games.”

Despite the record, Scott sees some positives in the Bulls’ early play. They outscored Florida 17-7 in the second half of a 42-20 loss to the Gators, got a 28-6 gap down to one score in a 35-27 loss at BYU, and were within 10 points late in an eventual 41-17 loss to SMU.

“We showed in two quarters in a couple of these games what we’re capable of,” Scott said, “but we’ve got to be a lot more consistent.”

True freshman Tim McClain (54 of 92 passing for 781 yards) will be making his fourth consecutive start at quarterback against a veteran Tulsa defense that starts four graduates along with five seniors and two juniors.

The Hurricane also have a two-prong rushing attack behind Shamari Brooks (416 yards) and Anthony Watkins (282).

Tulsa has an open date after this but then takes on Navy and league leader Cincinnati its next two games.

“It’s a difficult week and we don’t want to be thinking ahead,” Tulsa coach Philip Montgomery said. “I don’t think we can afford to do that at all.”

–Field Level Media

Florida Gators defensive lineman Antonio Valentino (55) congratulates Florida Gators defensive lineman Daquan Newkirk (44) after a big stop during the second game of the season against the USF Bulls at Raymond James Stadium, in Tampa Fla. Sept. 11, 2021.

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No. 13 Florida cruises to win over South Florida

Florida scored touchdowns on five consecutive possessions of Saturday’s game, and coasted to a 42-20 win over host South Florida in Tampa, Fla.

The 13th-ranked Gators (2-0) got results out of their two quarterbacks, Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson. Jones completed 14 of 22 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, and ran for 81 yards and a score.

Richardson was 3 for 3 for 152 yards and two touchdown passes with an 80-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter, totaling 115 yards on the ground to lead the Gators in rushing. His stats might have fueled the idea of a quarterback controversy in Gainesville, which head coach Dan Mullen had refuted earlier in the week.

But Richardson was injured on the long touchdown run, and did not return to the game.

The Gators finished with 666 yards — 363 rushing, 303 passing.

There were big play touchdowns for Florida and five catches for 175 yards from wide receiver Jacob Copeland, but the first Gators touchdown drive was the product of tough running from Dameon Pierce, who had runs of 16, 20 and seven yards on the possession, the last one being for a score.

Jones engineered that drive, then gave way to Richardson. On Richardson’s first pass of the game, he found Copeland over the middle, and Copeland turned the completion into a 75-yard touchdown with 4:34 to play in the quarter.

Florida got the ball back on a turnover on downs, and Jones found Xzavier Henderson for a 35-yard touchdown and a 21-3 lead.

Richardson got his turn, and again connected with Copeland for a 41-yard touchdown pass. Two-plus minutes later, Jones ran in a keeper, electing to fake the pitch and run it up the middle and breaking into the open field for a 33-yard touchdown.

The Bulls (0-2) couldn’t overcome the 32-point deficit they faced before halftime, and made a quarterback change from starter Cade Fortin (91 yards) to Timmy McClain (83) for the second half.

The Bulls gained just 297 yards of total offense, and received two rushing touchdowns for Jaren Mangham.

–Field Level Media

Sep 4, 2021; Gainesville, Florida, USA; Florida Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson (15) runs the ball in for a touchdown during the fourth quarter against the Florida Atlantic Owls at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

No. 13 Florida heads south to battle USF

The 13th-ranked Florida Gators take their show on the road to Tampa this Saturday, where they’ll have plenty of support from inside Raymond James Stadium against host South Florida.

The Gators (1-0) have a quarterback controversy potentially brewing. Junior Emory Jones is the starter but redshirt freshman Anthony Richardson is making the coaching staff wonder a little bit about increased playing time.

Jones was 17 for 27 for 113 yards with a touchdown pass and two interceptions in his team’s 35-14 win over Florida Atlantic last week. Head coach Dan Mullen says there is no controversy, even though Richardson ran for 160 yards on seven carries, passed for another 40 yards and, with the Gators having sealed their win late in the game, impressed with a 73-yard touchdown run.

If nothing else, expect to see the two quarterbacks again on Saturday against the Bulls (0-1), who fell at North Carolina State 45-0 last week.

The game will be the first regular-season game in Tampa for Florida since playing Mississippi State in 1989, before the current home of the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers was built. Defensive end Zachary Carter, who had three of his team’s six sacks against Florida Atlantic, is among those Gators from the area who get to play in their hometown.

“You know, I haven’t played a game in Tampa in about four years,” Carter said. “I’m getting old, but I’m excited to be back in Tampa. I’m going to have a big crowd (of family and friends) there.”

The Gators will also sport a new-look white helmet.

Florida and South Florida have faced each other just one other time, a 38-14 win for the Gators at The Swamp in Gainesville in 2010.

The Bulls might be close to a quarterback change. True freshman Timmy McClain and sophomore Cade Fortin, the starter last Thursday, had the same number of completions against N.C. State: seven.

McClain threw for 126 yards on 13 attempts compared to 41 yards on 20 attempts for Fortin. McClain threw two interceptions, though, and Fortin will get the start again this week, head coach Jeff Scott said.

“Cade settled down when we put him in later in the game. He showed better decision-making,” Scott said.

Both quarterbacks will play, Scott added.

“The biggest disappointment was the turnovers. He just forced some throws in the red zone that did not need to happen there, and took away some opportunities to get points,” Scott said of McClain. “I expect both of those guys to play better this week.”

Scott said the team looks forward to a big crowd at home after fans were not allowed for games at home last season. He said he hopes his team has learned lessons from the season-opening loss but knows the Gators will be a tough opponent.

“For me it starts with being able to stop their running game. They had over 400 yards rushing last week,” Scott said of the Gators, who averaged 8.7 yards per carry against FAU. “Both of their quarterbacks are tremendous.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 23, 2020; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tulsa Golden Hurricane wide receiver Juancarlos Santana (5) catches a touchdown pass as South Florida Bulls defensive back Mike Hampton (7) defends in the first half at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Tulsa shakes off layoff, routs South Florida

The Tulsa Golden Hurricane showed no signs of rust after a 19-day layoff, cruising to a 42-13 win over South Florida Bulls on Friday night in Tampa, Fla.

Tulsa remains one of five unbeaten teams in the American Athletic Conference after winning its first game since Oct., 3 when it upset then-No. 11 UCF 34-26. A scheduled game last week against No. 8 Cincinnati due to a COVID-19 outbreak with the Bearcats.

The Golden Hurricane (2-1, 2-0 AAC) totaled 462 yards overall with a near-perfect balance of 235 passing and 227 rushing. Sophomore Deneric Prince (15 rushes, 109 yards) and senior Corey Taylor II (12 rushes, 67 yards) each ran for two touchdowns.

Tulsa outgained South Florida 289-113 in total yards in the first half and led 21-6 at halftime.

Golden Hurricane junior linebacker Zaven Collins was responsible for two of the three South Florida turnovers, forcing a fumble in the first half and returning an interception 38 yards for a touchdown that helped the Golden Hurricane pull away in the third quarter.

South Florida (1-5, 0-4) lost its fifth consecutive game and struggled to find any consistent momentum on offense. The Bulls used three quarterbacks in the game with grad transfer Noah Johnson taking the most snaps. Johnson completed 18 of 26 for 150 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His 4-yard touchdown pass to Bryce Miller cut Tulsa’s lead to 21-13 with 8:43 left in the third.

Sophomore Johnny Ford — the Bulls’ leader in total yards — was held to 19 yards combined rushing and receiving.

The Bulls struggled on third down, converting just 2 of 15 tries.

In the middle of the third quarter, Prince took a handoff from Tulsa senior quarterback Zach Smith, cut to the inside and sprinted up the middle for a 62-yard touchdown that sparked a run of 21 unanswered points. That TD increased the lead to 28-13, and five minutes later, the margin was up to 42-13 after Collins’ pick-six and a 1-yard Taylor scoring run.

Smith completed 16 of 24 passes for 233 yards with one interception and a 33-yard touchdown pass to JuanCarlos Santana that opened the game’s scoring.

–Field Level Media