Thursday, November 23, 2017
Colleges

Coach Charlie Strong gets in a dig at USF fans

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TAMPA — If social media is any sign, USF's fan base is gradually melting down over the way its Heisman candidate, QB Quinton Flowers, has been employed — or underemployed — through two games.

Charlie Strong's reaction to the criticism: Bulls tickets are being underutilized, also.

When asked Tuesday about the general panic surrounding his offense and its use of Flowers, Strong first took a subtle jab at fans before responding.

"I'd say this, we had a lot of fans that came out to the game, there were a lot of fans that didn't show up," said Strong, whose team drew an actual crowd of 18,302 to its home opener Saturday against Stony Brook. "We just need to get everybody on board."

Strong then addressed the Flowers matter.

"When you have a good player, (defenses) are gonna find ways to attack that player," he said.

"And I told Quinton, 'If I were playing against you with my defense, I would never let you run the football. I'd make you sit in the pocket and throw it.' So there's ways that people find where they attack you, so if they attack you, other players have got to step up and make plays."

The veer-and-shoot offense — under new coordinator Sterlin Gilbert — has averaged 443.5 yards in two games but has come under scrutiny for not being … well … the Gulf Coast Offense of 2016. Specifically, run-pass options (RPOs) seem limited, swing passes to tailbacks seem nonexistent, and the pocket mostly appears stationary.

Strong also addressed those concerns. Regarding TB D'Ernest Johnson (28 catches in 2016) having no receptions this season:

"It just depends on the offensive play and what the defense is giving us. That's what's gonna depend on who gets the ball and where the ball goes. We know how good he is with the ball in his hands, so you're always trying to find ways to get the ball in his hands."

STORM TRACKING: As the state braces for the expected impact of Hurricane Irma, UCF moved its American Athletic Conference opener against Memphis up a day. The Knights will host the game at 6:30 Friday night. No tailgating will be allowed on campus lots so law enforcement can focus their attention elsewhere.

"The best option for ensuring this game is played is to move it to Friday night," Knights athletic director Danny White said in a statement Tuesday.

"With travel considerations, we had to make that decision today. I thank the University of Memphis and the American Athletic Conference for working with us to keep safety our top priority while finding a way to play this game."

Florida and Florida State are both scheduled to host games Saturday night, the Seminoles against Louisiana-Monroe at 7 and the Gators against Northern Colorado at 7:30. Both programs said they are monitoring the situation. So is Miami, which canceled classes for the rest of the week. The Hurricanes are scheduled to play at Arkansas State at 3:30.

MIAMI TO FACE 'BAMA: Miami will open the 2021 season against Alabama in the annual kickoff game at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The 'Canes and 'Bama have not met since 1993.

The exact date and kickoff information will be announced later. Previous games — including the Crimson Tide's win over FSU on Saturday — average a payout of $5 million per school.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls. Contact Matt Baker at mbaker@tampabay.com. Follow @MBakerTBTimes.

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