The Bulls have a lot of question marks as they enter this game. Who is the starting QB? Can the defense figure out how to stop a spread offense for once? Can Coach Taggart and his staff help his young team take the next step forward? Which team will show up in this game? Here are my 5 keys for this game with so many questions swirling around the team.
Protect whoever the QB is – Mike White couldn’t hold onto the ball against Cincinnati and Steven Bench threw two touchdown passes in the loss to Cincinnati. Now with Coach Taggart saying both will compete for the starting job this week, its wide open on who will take the first snaps of this game (might have to wait till opening series to see who has won the start). Whoever takes the first snaps of the game, it will be on the offensive line to keep them on their feet. If White starts, the line will have to keep him safe in the pocket and give him time to throw. If Bench gets the start, the line has to be ready for him to move and run out of the pocket and create outside. They have a tall task ahead of them in this game in this game whoever gets the start.
Get Mack going – Mack was held in check against Cincinnati, a team that was suppose to be easy to run on. The offensive line was part of the issue, but it will be on Mack to get going and get every inch he can. He has already set the freshman rushing record but now he has a chance to make history and will be carrying the bulk of the offense again with a shaky situation at quarterback next to him. Mack will get the bulk of the carries and stage is all his in this game. If Mack can get it going early, it will make life so much easier for the offense for the course of the game.
Keep your cool – Chris Dunkley was tossed for “targeting” in the last game. Andre Davis was tossed for fighting in the last game as well. Emotions ran high in the last game and the frustration boiled over several times for the Bulls (penalties can come from it too). It’s frustrating to lose games and to continually see the same mistakes and errors in each game. For the young Bulls, they have to keep their calm in this game. They could be down at times or making mistakes, but they can’t take their emotions out on the Houston squad. Keep your cool, execute, and beat them on the scoreboard (Andre Davis will miss the first half because of the issue from the last game).
Stop the spread – The Bulls gave up 300 yards in the first half vs. Cincinnati, the 5th time they have allowed that this year. The defense is a mess right now. Players are playing real far off the line, the defensive line is getting little to no pressure, and tackles are being missed all of the time. Coach Bresnahan has not been able to get his unit better and they continue to falter after being so stout last year. Players are out of position and not executing. Yes, youth is part of it, but at some point it just becomes an excuse. Coach Bresnahan and his players have to do a better job. They have to tackle, play assignments, and make the plays they are capable of. If they fail to stop Houston on third downs, get ready for another long afternoon.
What team shows up – The team that rallied against Tulsa was great. Offense moved the ball at will and the defense locked it down. Then we saw a lifeless offense and out of position defense for an entire game against Cincinnati. So what team shows up on Saturday afternoon? Will we see a team that has learned and is set to put the lessons into action? Or will we continue to see a young team that continues to make the same mistakes, not learning from the past, only repeating it? I, like everyone else, we have no idea which team shows up on Saturday. Hopefully the second half team from Tulsa that has learned more after Cincinnati shows up in this one.