The Bulls were able to rally late in the 2nd half against Tulsa and came away with the first road win for Coach Taggart in his 2nd year at the helm. Now, with a 3-4 (2-1) record, the Bulls are going to try to make it two straight as they head to Cincinnati. The Bearcats, 3-3, lost last year to USF and will be looking to defend their home turf in this one. Here are my 5 keys for the Bulls heading into this game.
Build off of the Tulsa game – The win over Tulsa was huge. It was a complete win for the Bulls as they got the defense fixed and the offense going in the victory. Now, for a young team, the confidence should be building. They know they can go on the road, handle adversity, and still rally late and get a victory. Now for the coaching staff they have to continue to build and coach this team and get them prepared. The Bulls have momentum, now they need to build off of it after a huge victory last week.
Feed Mack – Mack had 130 yards and scored 2 touchdowns in the win over Tulsa. Mack continues to show he is the work horse of the rushing attack and the numbers are showing it. He is about to catch the freshman rushing record and could be on his way to a 1000 yard year with several games left. For the Bulls to keep it going in this game, they will need the offensive line to keep it going and help open up the running lanes for Mack to be successful. If the offense can get Mack going, they will stand a chance in this game.
Davis is the key – Davis tied the program record with 14 career touchdown catches and is now the all time leading receiver for the Bulls. With him, the offense is better. Mike White has the confidence to throw the ball to his favorite target and knows good things will come. With this, the offense opens up more with the tight ends, Rodney Adams on the opposite side and the running backs in the passing game. I would look for Davis to continue to be the go-to target and continue to lead the way for the passing offense. If he can get open, it will make life easier for the other receivers all over the field.
Sharpen up the secondary – The Bearcats spread the field and sling it all over the place. For the USF defense which has struggled at times at stop spread looks and quick throws, this will be another big challenge. The Bulls did not have Reshard Cliett and Chris Dunkley last game , but with them returning it should help (Johnny Ward is listed as out for this game). USF will have to rely on a lot of young players to rise up and play up to the challenge. If the secondary can force some bad throws and incompletes, keeping the Bearcats off the field and stop drives, the Bulls will have a great chance in this one.
Progress report – The Bulls have 3 wins, one more than last year. They set the program record for largest come back. They got the first road win for Coach Taggart. Now its time to build off of this win. I’m not calling for another road win and a lot could happen in this game, but the biggest thing for the Bulls moving forward is the continuation and development of the offense and the defense. USF needs to come out in this game, show life on both sides of the ball, and not just be content to punt the ball away and allow the Bearcats to run up and down the field. This young team got a taste of what it feels like to win, now they have to learn how to get seconds on it. If they continue to show improvement, then the coaching staff is doing its job.