South Florida should be turning some heads around college football. Charlie Strong took over right where Willie Taggert left off and the Bulls have been running ever since. After a 10-2 (6-2) campaign in the American last season, USF is right in the mix in a tough American East division with fellow undefeated’s UCF and Cincy both sticking around. Last week, the Bulls sat at #27 in the AP Top 25 but were propelled to #23 after a 58-42 shootout win over UMass.
USF now sits at 5-0. The Bulls don’t necessarily do anything that blows you away, but that offense is fun to watch. Junior RB Jordan Cronkrite is a BEAST. After spending his first year at Florida, Cronkrite made the transfer to USF to join the Bulls. Last week against UMass, Cronkrite went for 302 yards on 23 carries. You read that correctly and yes, that’s a whopping 13.1 yards per carry. That boosted Cronkrite to 606 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns on the year, and a jaw-dropping 8.8 yards per carry. Cronkrite’s big-play ability adds to the mix for a fun USF offense. It even earned him a helmet sticker on ESPN. 302 yards rushing will certainly do that for you.
Junior QB Blake Barnett has bounced around, first from Alabama, then to Arizona State, but the California native has found a home in South Florida. Barnett doesn’t exactly pop the stat book every week, but 1,308 yards and a 65% completion rate isn’t too shabby. What I love about Barnett is his NFL type frame. He stands at 6’5”, 217 pounds. An ideal pocket passer with some legs.
This video is from last year, but you can see the arm. The kid throws a beautiful deep ball. The best part of Barnett’s game is the development of his legs. Last season at Arizona State, he only ran the ball one time. This year, he’s tucked it under and taken off 50 times for 125 yards and 4 touchdowns. This puts Barnett in a better position to be drafted a couple years from now.
Barnett and Cronkrite make the Bulls a fun offense to watch. They have been plagued by slow starts, but the turn up in the second half of games has been noticeable. USF’s defense has been brutal to say the least, equally bad against the run and the pass. If USF’s high powered offense can keep putting numbers on the board, the rest of college football will soon take notice. This is a team that really only has two more tough opponents on the schedule with Cincinnati and UCF. They also hit the road against a stingy Houston team. But the American Athletic Conference has been getting some buzz this year, and if USF can run the table, a Top 10 finish and a New Year’s Six bowl don’t seem out of the question.