This is going to be a very tough game for the Bulls against the spread offense and speed of the ECU team. Can they figure out a way to get Shane Carden off the field? Can the USF offense get something going? Here are my 5 keys for this game.
Keep Shane Carden on the sidelines – Carden and the ECU offense have made everyone look bad this year. What’s the best way to stop him? Keep him off the field. This will mean two things. One, the defense is able to force quick 3 and outs (tough to do). Second, the offense must stay on the field and sustain long drives that eat the clock up and not allow that ECU offense a chance to get into rhythm. This won’t be easy to do, but with a extra week for the coaching staff to prepare and the players to get ready, hopefully they can make it happen and keep the Pirates off the field.
Establish the running game – ECU allows just over a 100 yards a game to opposing teams, making it hard for anyone to get the ground game going. The USF offense is led by the running game so this is going to be a huge issue if the Bulls are not able to get the ground game going. The offensive line will need to establish themselves early in the game and Marlon Mack will need to make smart decisions and hit the gaps fast to get up field. If the Bulls can’t get the ground game going, it could be a very long night for the USF offense.
Protect Mike White – ECU does give up some yardage through the air so the air game of the Bulls has to get going. For this to happen, this means keeping Mike White on his feet and getting the passing game going. Having Andre Davis back will help the passing game to get going but the line has to give White time to stand back there and get the ball down the field. If that happens, the Bulls will have a better chance to get first downs and keep the ball moving.
Force turnovers – The defense has forced 12 turnovers this year, a great number. Against the ECU offense, they will need to force a few more if they want to stay in this game against the Pirates. The Bulls will need interceptions, fumbles, or something big to happen in this game to not only take the momentum away from ECU but to spark the Bulls and get the energy going during the game. Imagine what a pick six would do for the Bulls? It would shut down the ECU offense, add points, and get everyone in green and gold excited and amped. They need this kind of play in this game.
Make a big play – Someone has to come up big in this game. It could be a huge punt return from Chris Dunkley. It could be a big throw or run on offense from White or Mack. Or it could be a huge play on the defense like the pick 6 I wished for before. Something big has to happen for the Bulls to get a lucky break and get something big to happen. Someone has to step up and make a huge play for the Bulls and give them a deciding factor.