BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : GEORGIA TECH
By Leo Haggerty
The competition improves exponentially this week for the Bulls when the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets roll into Raymond James Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 so, if you’re going to go out and watch the Green & Gold like you should, bring plenty of fluids because it’s going to be a typical Tampa subtropical late summer afternoon. Hot and humid.
Below are my four keys to the game for USF to emerge with a victory against a Power 5 conference foe. It won’t be easy but it will be doable if South Florida attains these goals.
DON’T LET GT PLAY HIDE-AND-SEEK ON OFFENSE
With their triple option offense, Georgia Tech tries to simply grind out wins. They go on long, time-consuming drives that not only end up in points but totally frustrate the team trying to defense this uncommon offensive scheme.
With that being said, South Florida cannot let the Yellowjackets get more than a touchdown lead. If the Old Gold & White gets a double-digit advantage, they can systematically hold the pigskin for large chunks of time . That limits the amount of possessions USF will have as the game winds down.
The USF defense is in for a long afternoon if they cannot find a way to get off the field. They will get worn down not only by the Tech offense but by Mother Nature as well.
MAKE TECH PLAY CATCH UP
South Florida needs to score first and score often. Then, the Green & Gold needs to score some more.
The way you beat Georgia Tech is to outscore them. I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if Paul Johnson’s troops put 28 points on the board.
That’s no disrespect for the USF defense. I’m just emphasizing that GT has an offensive scheme that you don’t see and, with only a week to prepare for an offense that forces you to play assignment football and populate to the pigskin, it will be difficult to keep the Yellowjackets off the scoreboard. Just make sure Ramblin’ Wreck’s score is to the right of the dash.
NO SHORT FIELDS FOR THE RAMBLIN’ WRECK
Turnovers, for both teams, will be the most crucial stat of the contest. USF has to win the turnover battle but, even more important, they have to take care of the football in their own territory.
The Bulls need to make Georgia Tech earn every point by making the Ramblin’ Wreck go long distances to score. If South Florida gives Tech short field opportunities, the Old Gold & White will make USF pay.
The Green & Gold need to be extremely conscious of field position. They cannot turn the ball over on their own side of midfield. That’s asking for trouble against Tech because that’s how they make their living.
LIMIT THE YELLOWJACKETS SPLASH PLAYS
Here’s the mentality USF has to have if they want to derail the Tech triple option and it’s a simple philosophy. Tackle the fullback and hit the quarterback in the mouth so he has to pitch early and pursue to the football.
What Georgia Tech wants your defense to do is overcompensate. If the defender responsible for the dive thinks he needs to hit the quarterback, the fullback will be into the secondary in a heartbeat.
This is assignment football. It’s not pretty but it’s effective because, if every defender does their job, it keeps the Yellowjackets from breaking big plays.
If South Florida forces GT to go on double-digit drives, it will be hard for the Old Gold & White to sustain them. All it takes is a botched read or a penalty to derail the Georgia Tech offense and that’s what Coach Charlie Strong’s defense is banking.
My call is look for a lot of points to be put up and that’s an advantage for USF. The more possession South Florida gets, the more chances the Green & Gold have of putting big points numbers.
My pick is USF 41 and Georgia Tech 28. See you at the RayJay.