BULLS : GOAL LINE STAND : TULSA
By Leo Haggerty
USF puts its undefeated record on the line when the Bulls travel to Tulsa to take on the Golden Hurricane Friday night. South Florids is 5-0, 2-0 in the American Athletic Conference East, while Tulsa comes into the tilt at 1-4 with an 0-2 log in the AAC West.
For some reason, the oddsmakers are seeing this as a much closer game then it appears to be on paper. USF is just over a touchdown favorite and I’ll touch on why that seems to be the prevalent opinion with my four keys to victory below. Enjoy.
FEED THE BEAST
Let’s be real honest here. RB Jordan Cronkrite is on fire.
USF needs to spread the field and give Tulsa a steady diet of #2 on the ground. Find out early if the Golden Hurricane can stop the run especially after giving up 312 yards on the ground to Houston last week.
The Miami, FL native has proven he can tote the mail in the short haul as well as make long-distance deliveries with his record-setting 302-yard performance against UMass. Plus , it eats up clock time so the Bulls defense stays off the field.
KEEP THE HURRICANE A CATEGORY 1
OK, when you’re talking about South Florida, we all know that good defense is winning 40-31. That’s just a fact of life for the Bulls with as fast as they play on offense and there’s nothing wrong with that with the following stipulation.
It’s all good if you’re putting up a big number on your side of the scoreboard. If you don’t, things can get very tense and stressful on all parties. Use East Carolina as an example.
The Bulls defense needs to keep Tulsa in the low to mid 20s when it comes to points. That way, if the offense struggles and it may being that the game is the first for the Green & Gold on Friday, they can keep the game close till QB Blake Bennett and Company get their sea legs.
South Florida cannot let the Golden Hurricane offense become a Cat 5. Need to keep them just above tropical storm stage so this doesn’t become an offensive fireworks display.
WIN FIRST DOWN ON DEFENSE
This is huge. For the last two contests, ECU and UMass, the Bulls defense is flat-out having trouble getting off the field.
USF is giving up way too many first downs. That’s because, on a majority of occasions, the South Florida defense is forced to try and stop makable third-and-short situations.
How does the Green & Gold remedy this? The answer is simple. Win on first down.
Force the Tulsa offense to throw the football on second down. That will allow the South Florida pass rushers to go after the QB as well as their ball-hawking secondary to make a play on the football.
That will lead to more third-and-long downs. That gives USF a better chance to get off the field or come up with a turnover.
PLAY FAST ON OFFENSE
South Florida needs to go at Warp speed when running their offense. This will not allow Tulsa to substitute which will, over the course of 60 minutes, wear down the Golden Hurricane defenders.
Personally, I would lend more credence to the “Flat on Friday Night” theory if the Bulls weren’t coming off a bye week offensive explosion at UMass. USF was well rested and refocused and Tulsa is playing their sixth game in a row.
I have South Florida 45-26 with a plethora of big plays early. Meet you at the TV.