Here we go. USF has doubled its win total from last year, but there are so many questions with this team that never seemed to be answered. The offense is a mystery, the defense is a headache and special teams has been up and down. Here are my five keys for the Bulls in this game as they try to get the upset victory on the road.
Protect whoever the quarterback is
It’s the day before the game and there is still no announcement on the starting quarterback for this game. Is it Quinton Flowers again or does Mike White get the start? Does Steven Bench get a chance? No one knows and its a little frustrating to the fans to wonder when the coaching staff will decide on a player. Whoever gets the start, the offensive line has to keep them safe and give them time to throw the ball down the field. The Memphis defense gets a lot of takeaways, so keeping the quarterback on their feet and giving them time will be key for this game.
Get the run game going
The run game was kept in check by SMU despite the Bulls coming out with a ground and pound gameplan. Marlon Mack has 907 yards on the year but has been quiet for several weeks now. The offensive line and the backs have to get going in this game to take the pressure off of whoever is under center at quarterback for USF. Mack, D’Ernest Johnson, Darius Tice and the front five have to ope the lanes and keep the offense going in this game. Its clear the passing game won’t be the strength for the USF offense in this game so it will be on the ground game if the Bulls want to score some points in this one.
Stars step up
2 games left in the year and an outside chance at a bowl game. For the seniors and stars of this team, this is crunch time for them. If they want to get to .500 and keep the season alive, they have to rise up now. Reshard Cliett, Todd Chandler, Andre Davis, and others all have a chance to end the year on a high note, but they have to get it done. We have seen moments all year from them, but they all have to step up their games in this one if the Bulls want to get the upset win on the road. Can they step it up? We will have to wait and see.
Contain Paxton Lynch
Lynch has had a solid season throwing the ball and also running the ball. At 6’6″ he isn’t the fastest quarterback USF has ever seen, but he can run and will be tough to take down. The defense for the Bulls has struggled all year to stop spread offenses and mobile quarterbacks so we have the same old issue again. Can the Bulls get pressure, contain the outsides and make tackles in space? We haven’t seen it consistently all year and for this game, they need to figure it out real fast. I have nightmares of Lynch running up the middle for big yardage in this game. Please don’t let it before a reality for me.
Road game. Conference leader. No quarterback selected. Injuries mounting on offense. These are just a few of the factors going against the Bulls as they travel to Memphis. A lot of things are against them in this game, but it could be the driving force they need to get the upset victory. They are the underdog and no one outside of Tampa and the USF family is expecting them to win. Vegas has us 18.5 point underdogs, so they are predicting and ugly game for the green and gold. Want to prove them and so many others wrong, well, its time to dig deep. This is a chance for a momentum building win to close out the year? Does this team have it in them? We shall see.