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September 26, 2013
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The South Florida Bulls retake the field as they face of against the 15th ranked Miami Hurricanes. USF is the big time underdog, but despite the odds, there is a lot to watch during this game. Here are the 5 things I'll be keeping an eye on throughout the game.
Miami's rush defense vs. the USF running game
The Bulls rely a lot on running ball since the passing game is still a work in progress. USF rushes an average of 129 yards per game and Marcus Shaw leads the way with 398 yards this season.
The Hurricanes defense allows 139 yards a game on the ground. If the Bulls want to stand a chance in this game, USF will have to rely on the running game, control the clock, and use Shaw and other backs like Michael Pierre to take it right at the Miami defense. Miami has shown they will give up yards on the ground, something the Bulls have to take advantage of.
USF rush defense vs. the Miami running game
Reserve the tables here. The USF rush defense allows 160 yards a game and Miami runs the ball an average of 225 yards a game. This is a recipe for disaster for the USF defense is they are not able slow down the Hurricane ground game, which is led by sophomore Duke Johnson.
Johnson leads the way with 48 carries for 304 yards and 3 touchdowns, including 6 yards per carry. Keep an eye on Gus Edwards as well. He has carried it 18 times for 132 yards and 3 touchdowns, giving the Hurricanes another weapon in their backfield.
Stephen Morris vs. the USF secondary
Miami QB Stephen Morris injured his ankle last week against Savannah State, but is a full go for this game, not something the Bulls wanted to hear.
Morris is 30 for 56 for 404 yards including 4 touchdowns and 2 interceptions this season. Back-up Ryan Williams is 14 for 17 for 216 yards and 2 touchdowns as well, giving the Canes another solid arm just in case Morris is not 100% for the game.
The USF secondary, which hasn't been challenged much down the field this year will get a real work out in this one. Wide receivers Allen Hurns and Phillip Dorsett, along with tight end Clive Walford will challenge them all afternoon.
USF quarterback play
Miami will do everything they can to stack the box and slow Marcus Shaw down, putting even more pressure on the USF quarterback Steven Bench. The Bulls are averaging 135 yards a game right now and just 4.5 yards per reception, getting nothing done at all through the air.
The Hurricanes are only allowing 152 yards a game, shutting down anything that is thrown their way. USF struggles to pass, Miami defends the pass well. This is going to be interesting to watch as the Bulls try to get the offense going against a very stout secondary.
USF entered the bye week after an ugly loss to Florida Atlantic, not something Coach Willie Taggart and staff wanted. However, from all reports, the team is positive, focused, and has been working hard to correct their mistakes. Now they are facing the ranked Hurricanes and many are suggesting it could get really, really ugly out there.
I want to see what team shows up. Do we see the team that battled against Michigan State, a team that is slowly progressing and working to figure it out? Or do we see a team that hangs its heads after things get bad out there? It is hard to get fired up when your being beaten, but letting a team walk all over you is even worse. I want to see where this team is mentally and how far and fast they are progressing.