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October 10, 2013
USF-UConn - Five things to watch
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The Bulls are coming off of their first win of the year and now hit the road, hoping to build off of their recent success. They will be facing off against Connecticut, a team that is in transition with a new interim head coach T.J. Weist and a new freshman quarterback at the helm in Tim Boyle. Here are the 5 things I'll be watching in this game as the Bulls try to make it two in a row.
Win number one. It felt good and Coach Taggart said what we've all been saying, it's been a long time coming. The win was great, but this team can't just settle for a victory, they have to continue to build on this. The sideline had energy after the big plays, the young stars like Nate Godwin made plays, and veterans like Mark Joyce, made huge plays but now they have to learn from the win and learn how to repeat it and continue to get better.
I think the team and coaching staff had the world lifted off their shoulders in a sense on Saturday night. They got that first win. All of their hard work finally came together for 60 minutes and now we should see a team build off of that win. All this team has known for nearly a year was defeat, now they get to see what victory tastes like.
Chandler Whitmer was the starter, but with the new coach comes the new quarterback. Freshman Tim Boyle is a local star (rated 3-stars last year) that stands tall at 6'4" and has the Uconn fans excited at his potential. He has a strong arm, throwing nice deep passes and he has the ability to run, something we didn't see last week with Cincinnati. Boyle will prove to be a unique challenge for Coach Chuck Bresnahan and his defense. They are facing a young, unproven quarterback, but the game is on the road and the Huskies will be energized at the new changes.
Can the Bulls contain Boyle while making sure they are able to cover down the field? I'll be watching the linebackers for USF to see how they play Boyle. I wonder if they will stay close to the line or sit back in a softer zone, time will tell when they take the field.
With Marcus Shaw and Steven Bench both questionable for the game, the offense could be even more anemic in this game against Uconn. Bobby Eveld managed the game well, but the offense failed to score once. Michael Pierre and Darius Tice took over the rushing load with Shaw watching on crutches, but neither of them have the speed or vision that Shaw has, slowing down the big plays the offense has shown at times. Uconn 192 yards on the ground and 185 yards a game through the air, so the Bulls (at least on paper) should be able to move the ball, but I'm struggling to find a very consistent offensive attack on Saturday.
I want to see Eveld lead some long, productive drives, but there could be a lot of punts in this game.
I've been very critical of Aaron Lynch since he stepped on the field in the first game and rightly so. Entering the Cincinnati game, he had just 6 tackles and no sacks, but the coaches made a change. Coach Bresnahan had Lynch standing up on the edge, instead of a hand on the ground, almost like a linebacker.
Somehow it worked, Lynch came away with 2 tackles for loss and was getting more consistent pressure than he has all year long. Was it the change in how he lines up? Is Lynch simply getting into rhythm after a slow start? I'm not 100% sure, but I want to see it continue. The Bulls need him and the front seven to dictate the pace of the game and he will need to have a huge game if they want to win on the road.
The Bulls are getting better at creating turnovers. Against Miami it was the forced fumbles at the goal line. Against Cincinnati it was the interceptions and blocked field goal attempt that lead to the big plays and points on the board.
With a struggling offense, the defense and special teams units will have to continue to fight for the ball, come away with picks, and make plays happen in order to give the offense a fighting chance or just score on their own.
The Bulls are facing a freshman quarterback, let's see what kind of big plays they can make in this game.