Charlie Strong did not have a good first quarter as the head coach at USF. The No. 19 Bulls fell behind 16-0 at San Jose State, a Mountain West bottom-feeder, in a game they were favored to win by 22. Special teams were an enormous USF problem.
All of these are things USF did:
- Kicked the opening kickoff out of bounds, drawing a procedure penalty.
- Shanked a punt 18 yards, letting it go out of bounds at their own 22-yard line.
- Let a San Jose State punt bounce when they shouldn’t have, costing itself about 20 yards in field position.
That led to the Spartans’ second touchdown and the 16-0 lead. One of the wild things about that punt block is that SJSU wasn’t really trying to do it. They only rushed two men, and one of the USF punter’s protectors completely whiffed. This should’ve been a standard-issue boot, with the Spartans not doing much at all to disrupt it.
- Ran back the ensuing kickoff to their own 16 before getting wrapped up.
USF did block an extra point. Kudos.
Special teams weren’t a strength for Strong’s teams at Texas.
Awful special teams didn't spell Charlie's doom at Texas, but it was a defining trait of the program throughout https://t.co/a2cGNOl8js— David Ubben (@davidubben) August 26, 2017
Strong’s three Longhorns teams finished 36th, 69th, and 37th in Special Teams S&P+, an opponent-adjusted stat that measures efficiency and quality. They weren’t good, though they weren’t as bad as a couple of significant screw-ups in big moments made them seem. Burnt Orange Nation sums it up: “Dropped snaps. Missed field goals. Blocked extra point points. Abysmal return units.”
You probably remember this thing Notre Dame did to a Texas extra-point attempt in the teams’ season opener last year. It was a special teams blunder for the ages:
Is USF in for a year of special teams disasters? It’s too early to say for sure. But Texas had a limitless capacity for special teams misadventures, and the 2017 Bulls have so far done nothing to make anyone think they’ll be good at any of this.