BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : TULANE
By Leo Haggerty
The beat goes on. USF, now with the longest consecutive game winning streak in NCAA Division I at 11 games, dispatched the Cincinnati Bearcats 33-3 at Raymond James Stadium. Also, the streak for consecutive games scoring 30 points or more is also intact at 23 and that ties the University of Oregon (2011-20112) for the modern day record.
It wasn’t a pretty win and HC Charlie Strong let his charges know immediately after the contest of his displeasure. I think the Head Coach noticed a touch of complacency was setting in and he wanted to “nip that in the bud” so to speak.
Here are the four goals that I believe South Florida has to attain to come away with a win Saturday night in The Big Easy. Tulane will be tough so the Bulls need to bring their A game to continue their undefeated quest toward the American Athletic Conference Championship game December 2nd.
1st & GOAL-PLAY WITH EMOTION
The Tampa media had not seen an irate Charlie Strong until last Saturday evening. Even with the Bulls 33-3 win over a game but outmatched Cincinnati squad, Strong was irate about his team’s lack of effort and execution as well as passion.
Sometimes, especially when your a member of a good team, you have a tendency to take a more business-like approach to football. You want to try and play each game, one at a time, and not get too high or too low.
What South Florida forget, and I assume Coach Strong reminded them in a vociferous manner, that nothing great is ever accomplished without enthusiasm. Football is not just a game of skill but a game of emotions. Sometimes, the more invigorated squad comes away with the victory over a more-skilled team just because they”wanted it more” than the opposition.
I’m betting that USF comes out smokin’ Saturday night in the Big Easy and hits anything in a different color jersey. That, as the picture above will attest, can also mean the ones in the striped shirts so the zebras need to be on alert as well.
Tulane is on the tracks and the South Florida Express is coming through New Orleans. I feel sorry for the Green Wave because I don’t think any of the Green & Gold helmeted gladiators wants to hear another fire and brimstone post-game speech from Reverend Strong this season.
2ND & GOAL-SCORE EARLY AND OFTEN
When you’re playing an option team, like the Green Wave happens to be, it is imperative that you get the lead early. There are two major reasons that verify that statement.
First, an option team is not only trying to score but they are also want to burn clock. This limits the number of possessions that the opposition has and, henceforth, limits their scoring opportunities.
Second, an option attack is not a quick-strike offense. It’s goal is to exploit a player who has, for whatever reason, not fulfilled his gap responsibilities. That leads to a splash play and, generally, six points. At the very least, it moves the chains and frustrates the heck out of the defense that sees game clock time vanishing away with every snap.
USF wants to get the lead early and add to it as soon as possible. The longer you let Tulane in the game the more confident on offense they will become. That equates to a continuous dose of “keep away” by the Green Wave.
The USF defense needs to get some early three-and-outs. Then the offense needs to turn their possessions into points. If they don’t, it could be a long night for the Bulls.
3RD & GOAL-FORCE THE GREEN WAVE TO THROW THE FOOTBALL
Let’s be honest. Tulane is an option team and they want to run the ball on the perimeter to take advantage of their speed. Plus, this keeps the clock running while the Warp ! offense of USF is on the sideline. Big advantage for the New Orleans crew.
The Green Wave doesn’t have the firepower to get in a shootout with the Bulls. They will try to steal some possessions by trying to burn the clock as much as possible and scoring at the end of long and sustained drives.
The Green & White want to keep the ball on the ground as much as possible. It’s imperative that the USF defense shuts down the run as early as possible. By forcing Tulane to throw, it allows the Green & Gold defenders a chance for a turnover that can become a splash play as we saw last week.
It also gives the South Florida more possessions and that equates to more chances to score. And we all know what has happened the last 23 games where the Bulls have got double-digit possessions.
I’m thinking the Bulls come with some run blitzes early and try to disrupt the reads by the quarterback. With the team speed of USF on defense, this could cause havoc for the Tulane offense and force them to abandoned the run.
4TH & GOAL-GET 6 INSTEAD OF 3
I truly believe this is what HC Charlie Strong was alluding to in his post-game presser after the Cincinnati game. The Bulls were complacent and settled for field goals instead of touchdowns and that didn’t sit well with the boss to say the least.
Don’t get me wrong. Any points are good points but South Florida left a lot of them on the field against the Bearcats.
Look for the Bulls to make a more concerted effort to find the end zone. Maybe even an occasional fourth down gamble in the red zone early in the contest just to send the message that were looking for TDs and not FGs.
My prediction. USF 49-17. The Bulls finally put together a 60-minute effort in all three phases of the game.