TAMPA, Fla. – About 30 minutes before kickoff a weather alert indicated lightning was detected within 10 miles of Raymond James Stadium.
Fortunately, USF’s homecoming game against Tulane on Saturday started on time and proceeded without interference from Mother Nature. Make no mistake about this, though: when it rains, it pours.
Gerry Bohanon was the Bulls’ latest victim to an injury bug with a seemingly relentless bite. The quarterback exited with 6:34 remaining in the first half with his right arm to his side and void of any movement. The extent of Bohanon’s injury was not known in the aftermath of Saturday’s loss. In his postgame press conference, coach Jeff Scott indicated x-rays showed nothing was broken, such as his collarbone, and more tests were to be administered.
While the injury was unfortunate in itself, the timing was brutal from the standpoint Bohanon was in the midst of an impressive stretch. In nearly 10 quarters spanning games against ECU and Cincinnati, plus most of one half versus the Green Wave, the Arkansas native threw for 501 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 250 yards (7.8 avg.) and a pair of TDs. Thanks largely to his elusiveness, Bohanon was sacked only once (ECU) in that stretch.
Not coincidentally, USF (1-6/0-3 AAC) looked like a team that came to play. While the first half against the Pirates was a miserable affair, the Bulls, who trailed 41-7 at the break, came within a yard of making it a two-score contest with nearly seven minutes remaining in what was a 48-28 defeat. Against the Bearcats, USF took a 24-21 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter before falling, 28-24. On Saturday, Bohanon and the Bulls led 14-10 at the time he was injured. They went on to lose, 45-31.
Scott has had to build depth on both sides of scrimmage and build it largely through the transfer portal. That depth that has been tested more than what anybody has cared to see at this stage of the program’s development on his watch. Yet, injuries are not an excuse.
“We can’t stop playing because we have a bunch of injuries,” he said, Saturday night. “It is very unfortunate. I have never been around anything like this, but at the same time you have to move on. That’s why you rep two and three groups every day during the week (in practice) so those guys are ready when they get opportunities.”
The opportunity to run the offense after Bohanon’s injury belonged to Katravis Marsh. He had some moments, for sure, but some misfires as well. He also fumbled at his own 13-yard line when it was a seven-point game in the third quarter. The Green Wave, who returned the fumble to the six, immediately capitalized to take a 31-17 lead and kept the Bulls at arm’s reach for the duration.
“Up and down,” was Scott’s assessment of Marsh’s play. “He needs to do a better job of protecting the ball.”
Marsh, a third-year sophomore who at least contemplated transferring when he entered the portal after last season, has been with the program for all three years of Scott’s tenure. He started once in 2020 and 2021 and has a body of work that includes 98 career pass attempts, of which he has completed 46 percent with six interceptions and three touchdowns, including two against Tulane.
The hope, of course, is that Bohanon’s injury is not of the long-term variety. If it is, does Scott hand Marsh the keys to the offense, or does he turn to true freshman Byrum Brown in a nod to the future, and without burning the North Carolina native’s redshirt by playing him in no more than four of USF’s remaining five games?
Depending on Bohanon’s status for next Saturday at Houston following this week’s bye, that is a question that may not have to be answered. It is also one that may have to be answered.
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