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October 12, 2013

UConn - 5 keys to victory

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As the USF Bulls get set for a 12 noon kick off against Connecticut, we take a look at our weekly feature - Five keys to victory

1. Capitalize on the Huskies' poor rush defense
The Huskies rank 94th in nation rushing yards allowed with an average of 192.5 per game. With Marcus Shaw, USF's leading rusher, doubtful to play against UConn, junior RB Michael Pierre will have to step up as he steps into a starting role. Pierre had 61 yards on 16 carries last weekend against an 11th-ranked Bearcats rush defense; he should be able to have even more success against a Huskies defense that struggles to contain the run game.

2. Ride the momentum - and don't let UConn gain any of its own
While neither program has had a successful 2013 campaign thus far, USF is riding a big morale boost after last Saturday's win against Cincinnati. The Huskies, on the other hand, are still winless. But with a new coach and a new starting quarterback, Connecticut believes it can get back on the right track in its American Athletic Conference opener and finish out the season strong. The Bulls hold the same ideal, but they have never won at Rentschler Stadium, and the Huskies' slow start is no reason to believe this will be an easy win. USF must build on the victories won against the Bearcats while also stopping UConn from gaining any positives of their own.

3. Make smart passes
USF seemingly solved its turnover issue last weekend, giving up only one fumble very early on in the game. So, in that sense, the team has certainly improved in protecting the ball. It is incredibly important that the Bulls continue that trend against UConn. Despite being at the bottom of the AAC, the Huskies have a Top 20 pass defense. USF's passing game is not stellar to begin with, No. 114 in the nation with an average of just 144.6 yards per game, so when the QB does go to pass he must do so with the utmost accuracy.

4. Don't let the defense do all the work
It is no secret that the Bulls' defense is the reason the team was able to get its first win last weekend. With four forced turnovers and more points put on the board than the offense, the defensive unit lifted the team when it was unable to find the end zone. However, this is not something that USF should count on every game. The defense will naturally tire when it is doing all the work, and it is critical that whoever starts at the quarterback position leads his team down the field quite a few times throughout the game. USF's scoring offense is in the bottom 10 percent of Division I football, averaging just 16.8 points per game. This trend cannot continue if the Bulls expect to beat the Huskies and do well throughout the rest of conference play.

5. Expect the unexpected
As mentioned earlier, this UConn team is now being lead by a new coach and a new quarterback. In light of this, USF undoubtedly had a variety of difficulties as they prepared to take on the Huskies, the most prominent being a complete lack of film on the starting quarterback. The team will now have to rely primarily on its instincts rather than prior knowledge, and in doing so may have a bit of difficulty adjusting to a new game plan on the road. UConn enters this game as the six-point favorite, but if the Bulls stick to their guns and remain ready for whatever comes their way, they can certainly reach the 2-0 mark in conference play.

Samantha Ouimette is a writer for the USF-St. Pete Campus Student Newspaper and is a regular contributor to Runninthebulls.com



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