BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : MASSACHUSETTS
By Leo Haggerty

Photography by Trace Crisp. John Phillips, Jeffrey Neil Fox

I  have to admit, the bye came at a perfect time for the Bulls.  They played and beat two Power 5 opponents and won their AAC opener but USF has paid a big price.

After the 4-0 start, South Florida is beat up especially on the offensive side of the pigskin.  The Green & Gold needed the extra week to get healthy and to refocus on the task at hand.

Even though the Bulls have to travel to Amherst to play the Minutemen, USF get a little bit of a break.  Massachusetts HC Mark Whipple has been suspended for the tilt due to disparaging comments he made regarding the officiating in the UMASS loss last week to Ohio.

Whether he was right is immaterial. That’s a big no-no and the NCAA came down hard on the Mimutemen head honcho.

Look for the Maroon & Black to come out with a “win one for the Whipper” mentality. Below are my four keys so the Bulls avoid the upset.

1ST DOWN

START FAST

In the last three contests, USF found themselves trailing at some point late in the game.  That’s a recipe for disaster and I can guarantee you that HC Charlie Strong has hit that point hard in the past two weeks.

South Florida needs to get the lead early and make UMASS play from behind.  Make the Minutemen abandon the run and have to throw it all over the lot.  The Bulls defense will take of it from there.

2ND DOWN

PLAY WITH A SENSE OF URGENCY

USF, especially on offense, has looked like a team that thinks it can turn it on whenever it wants.  Huge mental mistake there.

The Bulls, in all three phases of the game, must play like it’s the last series of the contest and the game is on the line for 60 minutes. Don’t get caught sleepwalking through the first half thinking you can flip the switch in the second half.  That hole you dug in the first 30 minutes may be too big to crawl out of in the second 30 minutes.

3RD DOWN

GET OFF THE FIELD

East Carolina had a whopping 24 third down snaps against the Bulls.  That is past phenomenal and South Florida needs to lower that number substantially.

How do you do that?  Win on first down.  ECU had enough third-and-short’s for a season.

USF has to put UMASS in third-and-long for most of the contest.  If they don’t, the Minutemen will be able to stay in the game.

The Bulls do not want to go into the fourth quarter with the outcome still in doubt.  Then anything can happen and usually does.

4TH DOWN

PROTECT THE QB

USF gave up six sacks to the Pirates in their last game.  Some were the fault of the offensive line.  Some were the fault of the receivers not getting open and the backs not picking up the extra rusher. Some were on QB Blake Barnett for holding the ball too long.

No matter who is at fault, this must be corrected.  The chance of a turnover goes up exponentially when your QB is getting blasted.

Finally, I believe the Bulls will come to play from the opening kickoff at 3:30 EDT.  Look for USF to put up lots of points and the South Florida defense to play better.  USF, 45-31, as the offense hits on all cylinders.  See you at the TV.