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September 28, 2013

Eight areas to compare the Canes and Bulls

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MIAMI HURRICANES

EDGE

SOUTH FLORIDA BULLS

SECONDARY

PASSING ATTACK

This is a secondary that stopped Florida with two interceptions at critial times. Yes they gave up 291 yards to Jeff Driskell. On the flip side, FAU only managed 117 through the air and Savannah State - a paltry 49. With six interceptions, this secondary poses a major challenge for first-time starter Steven Bench. Wtih the speed and depth of the secondary, There won't be a lot of USF receivers running wide open in the clear. Miami will bring pressure and can cover very well. The Bulls are starting their third starter in four games - and that does not bode well against a Miami defense that love to put pressure on the QB and has six interceptions in the last two games. Steven Bench has got to get the timimg of the offense down, connect with his receivers and as Willie Taggart said 'Not hold the ball too long." Bench has had a full two weeks to prepare for the starting role and moved the offense pretty well in the FAU game - until an untimely fumble.
LINEBACKERS

RUNNING GAME

The Hurricanes have always been known for their hard-hitting linebackers and this year is no different. Led by Denzel Perryman (left), Miami's backers have been run-stoppers. Perryman's 9 tackles and 4 assists against Florida was just an example of stepping up to the occasion. Running against the Hurricanes is not easy. An off-season weight program to strengthen the linebakers and defensive line has paid dividends thus far. USF's Marcus Shaw is the one bright star on a dismal sky for the Bulls. Shaw has 392 yards in three games and USF will need a monster effort from Shaw, Michael Pierre and freshman Darius Tice - if he gets in. The Bulls will work to establish the run early against a Miami defense that has been stingy thus far. With Shaw's speed, if he can get past the front line - it could be interesting.
DEFENSIVE LINE

OFFENSIVE LINE

USF has faced strong defensive lines before (Michigan State) and found the going tough up front. Miami plays a base 4-3 and the defensive tackles are the key. Local Tampa product Anthony Chickillo looks to have a statement game playing before his hometown fans. This may be the overall strength of the defense with several experienced players up front. Olsen Pierre and Curtis Porter are 316 and 305 respectively. That's a lot of beef up front. They don't give up a lot of yardage and put a lot of pressure with stunts and schemes. Austin Reiter and the much-maligned offensive line are waiting for that breakout game. Twice the Bulls have faced off with tough defensive fronts and both times it did not end well. If the extra week of practice has given the 'Mules' as OL/OC coach Walt Wells likes to call his unit - now is the time to see it. Taggart said that freshman Dominique Threatt could play so we may be seeing the rebuilding of the USF offensive line.
PASSING ATTACK

SECONDARY

If Stephen Morris is 'healthy' - this could be a long night for USF. With weapons like Phillip Dorsett, Allen Hurth and company - Morris has both the tools and the wherewithall to make things happen. His numbers haven't been 'massive' but given the success Miami has had on the ground, they haven't had to be. Morris is a steady force and if he can get comfortable, he can move the 'Canes through the air quickly. With Jaquez Jenkins listed as 'doubtful' for this game, the USF secondary has got to turn to the younger line up against a fast, tall and experienced Miami receiving corps. Just how good are the class of 2013 signeees? This game may tell us. Johnny Ward and Nate Godwin are two players that Taggart identified as 'going to play some significant' time. Brandon Salinas, Mark Joyce and company will get tested early and often.
GROUND ATTACK

LINEBACKERS

Duke Johnson can flat out run. And that could pose some issues for the USF linebaacking corps. Johnson has second-step speed that can take him from zero to sixty in nothing flat. Add to that rushing attack Dallas Crawford and Gus Edwards and now you see why there is concern. Florida held the 'Canes to 50 yards rushing, but Johnson had 59. Bottling up the 'Duke' is a key for USF De De Lattimore and the rest of the linebacking corps figure to be tested and tested often. Last game against FAU, the defense gave up only one big play. This will be a key this weekend as Miami exploits defenses with 'big plays.' Look for more playing time for Nigel Harris, who had a team-high 12 tackles last time out. USF has got to stop the run to be successful and force Morris to beat them.
OFFENSIVE LINE

DEFENSIVE LINE

Miami comes into the game without the services of starting center Shane McDermott How quickly USF can take advantage of that is the key. All five starters on the line (minus McDermott) return for the Canes, and the center position is critical to Miami's offensive scheme. Guards Jon Feliciano and Brandon Linder will have to help back-up center Jared Wheeler with the line calls. Tackles Erik Flowers and Seantrel Henderson figure to be tested as the Bulls will bring pressure off the edge. The defensive line is still a work in progress, but the return of Julius Forte has helped. Still waiting for that breakout game for transfer Aaron Lynch and perhaps this will be the one. Of course, we keep saying that. Elkino Watson gets to go against a back-up center - so look for the Bulls to stunt early and often to try and confuse Wheeler. USF must put pressure on Morris with his gimpy ankle. The loss of McDermott tilts the scales slightly towards equal.
SPECIAL TEAMS

SPECIAL TEAMS

Losing both your punter and kicker is tough, but Miami seems to have gotten by. Bringing in a graduate student to take the punting duties (Pat O'Donnell and a sophomore kicker (Matt Goudis) - but the 'Canes haven't really needed the kicker to win games - yet. O'Donnell is averaging 47.6 yards per punt, but has had one blocked. Goudis has two field goals, both against FAU - and is a perfect 18-for-18 on extra points. O'Donnell handles the kickoff duties. The emergence of Marvin Kloss as a weapon last week - hitting a key 49-yard field goal against Michigan State and a 50-yarder against FAU. His only miss of the season came against McNeese State - and he's perfect on extra points. Kloss will need to keep the ball out of the hands of Miami's speedy return team, so touchbacks are at a premium. Mattias Ciabatti continues to impress us with his leg strength and his 43 yard average.
COACHING

COACHING

Since arriving on the campus in Coral Gables, there has not been one day that Al Golden has lived without thinking of the pending NCAA sanctions. The fact that Golden has been able to get the Canes to put all of the distractions behind them and play football is nothing short of spectacular. One of the few coaches who still wears a tie each game, Golden is animated and a 'players coach'. A tireless recruiter, he's worked hard to rebuild the program and in his third year - the Canes are showing life and look to be a team to contend with in the ACC - if the NCAA would only get out of the way. Willie Taggart knows the fans are restless after an 0-3 start. In his Thursday press call, he said he 'has been here before. It's a process and we're going through it.' How much longer the fans will tolerate a 'process' is the bigger question. Taggart is steady with his assessment and we haven't seen the Bulls respond in a crunch situation yet. While USF is 0-3, the fact that the offense's eight turnovers have led to 56 points cannot be ignored. Taggart gets a longer leash than most, because the cupboard was literally bare when he arrived, but some real game-day coaching is needed if USF is going to turn it around.


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