by Mike Miller
Scouting Report is a new, weekly feature on BYU football opponents. Fans typically know their own team’s strengths, but not the other team’s. Scouting Report will give you a quick look at what to keep an eye on during the game.
South Florida was just 2-10 last season, with the school’s lone wins coming against FCS side Florida A&M and fellow American conference member Temple. The Bulls visited Provo last season, with BYU racing out to a 21-0 lead in the first quarter. However, USF was able to slow down the Cougars significantly as the game progressed, allowing just two more touchdowns in an eventual 35-27 BYU victory. Here are three things to watch from USF that BYU will need to control in order to start the season 1-0:
One of the main ways the Bulls were able to get back into the game last year was through controlling the clock on the ground. They were methodical with their play calling to wear down the BYU defense and limit the number of possessions the Cougar offense had. One drive alone in the fourth quarter took over nine minutes, culminating in a touchdown after covering 94 yards in 19 plays.
Jaren Mangham is back at the front of the run game. He was the team’s leading rusher in last year’s game in Provo and throughout USF’s season. Mangham also had two of his 15 touchdowns on the season against BYU. Stopping him and the rest of USF’s run game will be essential for the Cougars to control the game’s tempo and allow the offense enough possessions to win the game.
Quarterback Gerry Bohanon
Picking a quarterback as someone to watch is fairly simple. The vast majority of football games is determined by how well a quarterback plays, but Gerry Bohanon is no ordinary quarterback and his path to USF is highly unusual.
After a 2021 season where he threw for 18 touchdowns and 2,200 yards with Baylor, Bohanon entered the transfer portal. He was the starter in 12 games for Baylor, including the Sugar Bowl win over Ole Miss. Against BYU last year, Bohanon was 18 of 28 passing for 231 yards and a touchdown.
He is now the USF starter, preparing for his first game with his new team. Such a high caliber addition will of course improve the USF offense. The questions now include how Bohanon will integrate into the team, how his other weapons will produce and how BYU will handle an offense with a new quarterback. Yes, Bohanon is a quarterback the Cougars have seen before, but the situation features a lot of unknowns and has the potential to play spoiler on BYU’s lofty 2022 aspirations.
Safety Will Jones
Billed as one of the fastest and most important players on the USF defense, Jones is another transfer set to play a key role. Like Bohanon, Jones has yet to play a game for the Bulls, but unlike Bohanon, Jones has been with the team for a year. He was a top-60 recruit for Kansas State, eventually transferring ahead of the 2021 season. However, Jones tore his ACL two days before the start of the season, postponing his USF debut another year.
The same questions about Bohanon applies to Jones’s addition to the team, but the USF defense is even more of a mystery than the offense. The unit gave up nearly 35 points per game last year, a recipe for disaster regardless of how good the offense turns out. Jones will need to help that number improve drastically if USF is to have any chance at slowing down a Cougar offense expected to have a ton of firepower ready to go.