South Florida at Tulsa

The Sports Xchange

October 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Friday, 7 p.m. ET
SITE: Chapman Stadium, Tulsa, Okla.
TV: ESPN
SERIES: USF leads 2-0. The Bulls won the last meeting 27-20 in 2017.
RANKINGS: South Florida No. 23

PLAYERS TO WATCH
Bulls

–QB Blake Barnett, a graduate transfer who started his career at Alabama before moving on to Arizona State and now USF, has completed 65.1 percent of his passes for an average of 262.6 yard a game. He has nine touchdown passes, four of them to WR Darnell Salomon, against four interceptions

–RB Jordan Cronkite has been on a tear in recent outings, capping off the stretch with 302 yards against UMass last week. He is averaging 8.8 yards a carry and has rushed for five scores.

–DE Josh Black has become a force off the bench for the Bulls defensive front. He leads the Bulls in sacks with four of the team’s 16.

–LB Khalid McGee started 11 games at safety two years ago but has found a home a weakside linebacker. He leads the Bulls in tackles with 45 stops and has 151 in his career.

Golden Hurricane

–QB Seth Boomer, a redshirt freshman, had his moments in Tulsa’s loss to Houston last week, throwing a touchdown pass and getting off a 12-yard run. But he also threw an interception and lost a fumble. He ended up 13-of-31 passing for 227 yards.

–RB Shamari Brooks sat out the game against Houston with an ankle injury. His 375 yards led the Golden Hurricane in rushing at the time. He is second now to the 411 of teammate Corey Taylor II and is expected to play against USF.

–LB Cooper Edmiston has three interceptions in the last two games. He leads the team in tackles with 42, including a team-high 22 solo efforts. He has yet to record a sack but has been credited with a quarterback hurry. He had 10 tackles against USF in last year’s game.

–LB Diamon Cannon had seven tackles, intercepted a pass, and forced a fumble in last year’s game against USF. The junior has started 13 of 24 appearances and has 23 tackles that include a sack this season. He also has broken up three passes.

KEYS
TO THE GAME

South Florida will have the opportunity to showcase star running back Jordan Cronkite before a national television audience Friday night when the newly ranked Bulls visit Tulsa.

Kickoff on ESPN for the American Athletic Conference matchup is 7 p.m. ET at Chapman Stadium in Tulsa.

A transfer from Florida, Cronkite rushed for 302 yards as the No. 23 Bulls (5-0, 2-0 AAC) beat Massachusetts 58-42 last week, setting school and conference records in the process. He scored on runs of 77, 76, and 30 yards and averaged 13.1 per carry to move his per-game average up to 151.5 yards per outing, third among FBS rushers.

“To rush for 300 yards, it’s amazing,” USF coach Charlie Strong said. “I wanted him to get 300 yards, so I left him in the game.”

Cronkite has rushed for at least 100 yards in three consecutive games, with his 567 during a three-game span second in school history only to the 591 Andre Hall rushed for in 2004.

“You watch him play and you really see that burst,” Strong said. “When he hits that burst, then he takes off and it’s hard for guys to go catch him.

“He has outstanding speed, runs behind his pads, can run through tacklers, and does a really good job of just protecting the football.”

Cronkite looks to have an opportunity for another big night against a Tulsa defense that has yielded more than 207 yards a game rushing to opponents.

The Golden Hurricane (1-4, 0-2 AAC) lost 41-26 loss to Houston last week despite leading 26-17 with 13 minutes to play. Tulsa is averaging nearly 207 yards per game rushing itself.

“The strength of their offense is their offensive line,” Strong said. “You look at the center, the guard and the tackle, all three of those are three-year starters. They’re similar to us. They have running backs that can play.”

Running backs Corey Taylor and Shamari Brooks have rushed for 411 and 375 yards, respectively. Brooks is expected back against the Bulls after missing the Houston game because of an ankle injury.

Redshirt freshman Seth Boomer, who got his first start at quarterback last week in place of injured Luke Skipper, is expected to start again for the Golden Hurricane. Boomer was 13-of-31 passing for 227 yards with an interception and touchdown in his collegiate debut, but he lost a fumble along with throwing the pick late in the loss.

Mistakes have sunk Tulsa’s opportunities all year. The Golden Hurricane have turned the ball over 16 times and rank 124th nationally among FBS teams in turnover margin at minus-7.

“We’ve played at times well enough in every game we’ve played in to win,” coach Philip Montgomery said.

The loss was the 14th in the last 17 games for Tulsa, which makes this opportunity against USF even bigger for Montgomery’s crew.

“We’re living week to week,” Montgomery said. “A big win here at home would be great. You add on playing on Friday night playing against the No. 23 team in the nation would be great for us.”

The Friday night affair is Tulsa’s third consecutive weeknight outing. In addition to the game against Houston, South Florida also played on a Thursday in late September, losing at Temple. USF has another Friday game, against UCF on Thanksgiving weekend.

Tulsa’s Montgomery, once a high school coach, is not enamored of the Friday affairs.

“It’s great for us to have another opportunity to play on national television in kind of being the only thing on at that point,” he said. “But the traditionalist in me, and you know my background, Friday nights are for high school football.

“I’d love to keep it that way, but we’re going to play whenever they tell us to play.”