BULLS – GOAL LINE STAND : SMU
By Leo Haggerty
The undefeated SMU Ponies come to Raymond James Stadium on Saturday for an early afternoon date with the USF Bulls. Kickoff, weather permitting, is at 4 PM.
USF comes into the conference opener with a convincing win over South Carolina State. The Green & Gold will need to bottle that feeling and unleash a can of you-know-what on a 4-0 Southern Methodist squad.
Below are my four keys to a Bulls victory. Do you agree?
1ST DOWN – KICK OFFENSE UP A NOTCH
All we heard about during the summer was how the Bulls offense would be so much more explosive under the direction of new OC Kerwin Bell. So far, the jury is still out on that statement.
Granted, the USF offense did look better under the direction of FR quarterback Jordan McCloud but a far cry from what was anticipated. Plus, it’s a lot easier to move the pigskin against South Carolina State than Wisconsin or Georgia Tech.
South Florida needs to go into this contest with SMU with the mindset that they will need to put up a big number on their side of the scoreboard. If they don’t, and if this game turns into the offensive outburst I believe it will become, the Green & Gold will be hard pressed to match the Ponies point for point.
2ND DOWN – CORRAL THE PONIES
Through the first four tilts, SMU has been an offensive juggernaut. The Dallas squad has not been held under 37 points in racing to a 4-0 start to the 2019 season.
Now, the first three contests hasn’t been against stellar competition but the last game changed that narrative. Southern Methodist went down to Fort Worth and beat #25 TCU 41-38 and that’s a spot where the Horned Frogs don’t lose too often.
The Bulls need to slow down the Pony Express from the opening kickoff. If they don’t, this contest could get ugly early.
3RD DOWN – BRING THE NOISE
This one is simple. USF has to get their fans vocally involved in the game from the opening kickoff.
The crowd needs to make life difficult for SMU to communicate especially on offense. Nothing frustrates an offense more that wants to play fast than having them spend precious seconds trying to get all eleven players on the same page.
There is nothing that’s more unnerving to an up-tempo offense that wants to play at the speed of light than having to slow down to a crawl because they have to spend time sending hand signals from the quarterback to the wide outs. Not in their DNA.
South Florida needs to maximize every advantage at their disposal. Getting the home fans involved early and vociferously is box the Bulls have to check.
4TH DOWN – GET OFF THE FIELD
When the opportunity presents itself on third down, the Bulls defense needs to keep the Ponies from moving the chains. The Bulls must not allow Southern Methodist to put together long sustained drives.
USF needs to keep SMU under a 40% third-down conversion rate. If it’s above that number, the Green & Gold defenders will be spent by the middle of the third period.
Make plays and get stops. That has to be the mantra of the South Florida defenders.
So, who wins the game? Good question. The Bulls are a new-look offense with McCloud at the controls and can make plays with his feet as well as his arm. #12 will only get better as he gets experience.
My call is that USF wins a very close high scoring contest 38-35 with a . The Bulls, in the conference opener for both teams, will find a way to get in the end zone just enough to win.