USF football: Five things to know about South Carolina State

The Bulldogs upset a ranked Football Championship Subdivision foe in their season opener
South Carolina State's Buddy Pough needs only two more victories to become his alma mater's all-time winningest coach. Richard Shiro  |  AP
South Carolina State's Buddy Pough needs only two more victories to become his alma mater's all-time winningest coach. Richard Shiro | AP
Published September 10

A quick look at South Carolina State (2-0), which plays at USF (0-2) on Saturday at Raymond James Stadium:

1. Upset alert?

Are the Bulldogs capable of coming into Raymond James Stadium and handing USF its ninth consecutive loss? You bet your McNeese State memories. The way the Bulls have been playing, no game is a gimme.

South Carolina State, which returns 16 starters from a 5-6 team, upset Wofford (then ranked eighth in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll), 28-13 in its season opener. The Bulldogs have allowed one touchdown in eight quarters, and have scored on all nine trips inside the red zone this season (including seven touchdowns).

Their greatest disadvantage Saturday ― like most small schools that venture to a Division I stadium for a nice paycheck ― will manifest itself on the line of scrimmage. SCSU’s projected starting offensive front weighs an average of 287 pounds; its defensive front 274.

2. Nick is nimble

UCF defensive lineman Joey Connors (91) deflects the ball on a pass thrown by South Carolina State quarterback Tyrece Nick (3) as defensive back Kyle Gibson (25) watches during a game last season. Phelan M. Ebenhack  |  AP
UCF defensive lineman Joey Connors (91) deflects the ball on a pass thrown by South Carolina State quarterback Tyrece Nick (3) as defensive back Kyle Gibson (25) watches during a game last season. Phelan M. Ebenhack | AP

Opening day starting quarterback Tyrece Nick, not terribly efficient against Wofford (12-for-26, 201 yards, one TD, one INT), was among a handful of veterans held out of Saturday’s 34-0 romp of Lane College so younger players could get their sea legs.

Nick ran for 40 yards on only 10 carries against Wofford, so his mobility could cause problems. Arguably his most dangerous target is 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman Shaq Davis (eight catches, 158 yards). Senior De’Montrez Burroughs, another rangy wideout (6-2, 218), has six catches for 133 yards and a TD.

3. Scoreless at Spectrum

If the Bulldogs come into RayJay and give the Bulls fits Saturday, USF fans are sure to hear cackling all the way from Orlando. UCF owns a pair of recent 38-0 victories against SCSU (2016, ’18).

4. Lou’s lieutenants square off

South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough speaks with Ahmaad Harris after Harris fumbled in the end zone against Clemson in a 2016 game. Richard Shiro  |  AP
South Carolina State coach Buddy Pough speaks with Ahmaad Harris after Harris fumbled in the end zone against Clemson in a 2016 game. Richard Shiro | AP

Bulldogs coach Buddy Pough, in his 18th season at his alma mater, worked three seasons (1999-2001) with Charlie Strong on Lou Holtz’s staff at South Carolina. He enters with a 127-71 record as Bulldogs coach, and needs only two more victories to achieve the program record. His teams have won two outright MEAC titles, have shared four others, and have reached the I-AA playoffs four times.

5. SCSU produces pros

Former New York Giants player Harry Carson listens during a halftime ceremony of an NFL football game between the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 18, 2016. Kathy Willens  |  AP
Former New York Giants player Harry Carson listens during a halftime ceremony of an NFL football game between the New York Giants and the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 18, 2016. Kathy Willens | AP

SCSU, a historically black college, has produced more than three-dozen NFL players and three Pro Football Hall of Famers: Harry Carson, Deacon Jones and Marion Motley.

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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