USF must show improvement in Scott's 3rd year

In the second year of his rebuild of Nebraska's football fortunes, Scott Frost lost five of his last six games. In the second year of his rebuild of South Florida's football fortunes, Jeff Scott is poised to do the same thing. That is worth noting because what is happening at USF now and what happened at Nebraska then is probably the closest thing we have to a blueprint for what might happen at USF in the near future.

But while there are a lot of similarities between the two programs, it is also important to note that there are major differences as well. First, in his four years at Nebraska, Frost has never suffered as embarrassing a beatdown as Scott did last week at Tulane. And second, while Scott continually emphasizes that his team is getting better, continues to improve, that has not been evident on the field.

Frost has lost a lot of games, but it's obvious from watching his Cornhuskers that they are indeed getting better. Nebraska is not losing games because it is being outplayed. It is not losing games because it lacks talent, or isn't as physical as the opponent it is facing. Nebraska could very well end this season with a 3-9 record, but change eight, 10 plays, and the record could be 9-3. Nebraska is losing because it is making critical mistakes at critical times, but that is fixable.

You cannot say the same about USF. In most of their games, even against mediocre opposition, the Bulls have been outplayed, especially in the second half. They are clearly not as talented as the opposition and not as physical. This team may have peaked in the loss at Brigham Young when it played very well against a ranked opponent, especially in the second half when it rallied to make a game of it in a very hostile environment.

There have been some sputters and spurts since, occasions when the Bulls play reasonably well for a while as was the case against Cincinnati and Houston, but for the most part the positives Scott likes to point out are hard to find, and at a time late in the season when you would expect this team to be getting better, It is not. And if this team can't pull itself together by Friday, there's a very real chance it will end the season with another major beatdown at Central Florida.

Patrick Zier
Patrick Zier

This is not to say all is lost. Because he has not turned Nebraska around in four years, there have been a lot of calls to fire Frost. But they come from outside the program, and are meaningless. Nebraska's administration and athletic director are solidly behind Frost, and while the fan base may be grumbling, it has pretty much stayed in step with Frost because it can see progress.

And this is what has to happen for Scott to succeed at USF. While there is mounting frustration in the fan base, the school's administration and athletic director have given Scott their full support. In time, they believe he can turn this thing around, will turn it around.

A win Friday over archrival Central Florida would be a nice way to end the season, but it won't fix what ails this team. To justify USF's confidence in him, Scott must make sure what happened this year doesn't happen again. There must be improvement next year, and it must be visible. In his third year at USF, Scott's team must demonstrate that it is turning the corner, must show that it can go toe-to-toe with the opposition, must win some games.

As is the case with Frost, Scott is weathering the storm. He has not lost confidence in his ability to coach or his belief in his ability to build a winning program. But he has to start showing the rest of us that he can, in fact, do it.

PAT'S PICKS: UCF over USF - After the way they played at Tulane, there's no way you can pick the Bulls. The rest: Navy over Temple, Houston over UConn, Cincy over East Carolina, SMU over Tulsa, Memphis over Tulane. Last week, 5-1. For the season, 60-21, .741.

This article originally appeared on The Ledger: USF must show improvement in Scott's 3rd year