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November 16, 2013

USF takes on Memphis - Game Central

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Before the game, we break down the key areas the Bulls and Tigers face off.

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We'll keep you informed throughout the night.






At cornerback is junior Andrew Gaines (5'11" 185 lbs.) who has 39 tackles, .5 TFL, 5 PBU, and 5 PD, making him a solid defensive back that can make plays. Fellow junior corner Bobby McCain (5'11" 190 lbs.) has 17 tackles, 1 TFL, and leads the team with 3 interceptions. Senior free safety Lonnie Ballentine (6'3" 220 lbs.) has 38 tackles, including 3 PBU and 3 PD, showing he can play the ball while still making tackles in the box and will have to be watched the entire game

Willie Taggart know's what he's doing. As mad as some USF fans were when Taggart inserted Mike White into the game against Louisville, they were happy as junebugs after White showed great poise in almost beating Houston. White has pocket poise that goes beyond his youth. The resurgent Andre Davis doesn't hurt either - as Davis made big-time plays. Now, afer 10 days off - the Bulls have to capitalize on that momentum.


The key to the 3-4 defense is the linebackers, and Memphis has a group of players that can make an impact. The Tigers have given up 108 yards rushing per game and have a strong front line that the backers are behind. Charles Harris, Anthony Brown and Tank Jakes have the task of shutting down the running lanes, which the 3-4 is designed to do. However, if the Bulls can get Shaw loose.. watch out With the return of Marcus Shaw - and the development of freshman Darius Tice, the Bulls have a strong running game - and need to get it untracked early to allow White to settle into the passing game. USF has seen seven guys carry the ball effectively this season, but the most impressive is the freshman Tice (other than Shaw).The extra time has helped Shaw's hamstring, but the change in weather could aggravate it all over again.


The Tigers run a 3-4 base defense. One of their top pass rushers is redshirt junior Martin Ifedi (6'3" 265 lbs.). He has 39 tackles including 12.5 TFL and 8.5 sacks, making him one of the key pass rushers the Bulls have to block in this game. Redshirt sophomore Ricky Hunter (6'3" 275 lbs.) has 20 tackles including 7 TFL and 2 sacks on the year, teaming up with Ifedi to make a strong pass rush for the Tigers. Look for Ifedi to line up on the weak side and bring the pressure on White. If the Bulls put a spy on Ifedi, watch out for Hunter, who will line up at the defensive tackle (end) slot and try to come from the outside edge. Perhaps the most talked-about aspect of USF is the offensive line, and not in a good way. The Bulls ahve simply not found their way with being able to establish consistentcy up front, and that showed in the 4th quarter - on the next-to-last offensive series, when White was sacked and fumbled. If USF is going to have a chance to win their second home game of the season, it has to start up front. Austin Reiter has played very well, and the emergence of Dominique Threatt gives Bulls fans hope for the future. Look for Memphis to bring the houe early and focus on shutting down the run game.


For the second straight game, the Bulls face off with a Florida-bred QB. Peyton Lynch hails from Deltona, and has had a year to learn the system as a redshirt. He's a tall target for the defensive line, but can see over the defensive line very well, which gives him an advantage. Lynch completes 60 percent of his passes, but has only six touchdown throws to seven interceptions. Receivers Joe Craig and Tevin Jones look to help Lynch out, but are facing a secondary that may be able to match up well. The Bulls secondary got off to a shaky start against Houston, but made some big-time adjustments - and other than the final series, played toe-to-toe with the Cougar passing attack. The Tigers aren't Houston - not even close. However, USF has got to watch out for the speedy Tiger receviers who are still looking for a breakout game. USF's pass defense has improved each game - and part of that is from the pass rush - the other part is from the experience factor.


Memphis has a penchant to turn the ball over on fumbles and that is where the Bulls like to be. Look for Brandon Hayes to get a majority of the carries, and he leads the team in rushing and is a threat out of the backfield. MarquisWarford has some speed, but has had ball security issues. Lynch is not a threat to run, but does check down to the running backs when in trouble De De Lattimore is having the season we all expected him to have, and the rest of the linebacking corps has matured and grown in ways we never imagined. The play of freshman Nigel Harris has enabled LB coach Raymond Woodie to keep a fresh group out there and that will be needed today aginst the Tigers. Reshard Cliett has been playing very strong as well.


Memphis has got to give Lynch time against the Bulls' front line and that falls squarely on teh shoulders of center Chris Shuetz to make the correct line calls. USF will bring pressure, and the 4-3 is not kind to running lanes - so Memphis has to stay with its blocks and not give a gap for the speedy Bull defenders to get through. Nykiren Wellington, at 6-7, 325 will be on the power side. The line isn't very deep though, so if USF can get them tired - watch out. TE Al Cross will be called upon moreso to block than to be a target.

The play of Ryne Giddins and Julius Forte cannot go unnoticed - nor can the pressure brought by Luke Sager. The off week has helped with nagging injuries - particularly to this unit with Elkino Watson getting some much-needed rest. Facing off against an offensive line that has struggled at times to protect its quarterback (20 sacks), look for a big game from Giddins, Aaron Lynch and the Bulls front four. The 'modified' 4-3 (sometimes a 3-4) has resulted in more pressure on the opposing QB's.


For the second straight week, USF faces a Ray Guy Punting award nominee in Tom Hornsby, who is averaging 46 yards per kick. The other half of the equation, Jake Elliot is 11-12 on field goals, with a long of 52. With both teams having a strong kicking game, it's going to depend on field position. Hornsby has a knack of pinning the opposition deep, putting 17 kicks down inside the 20 yards line. If it comes down to a kick, flip a coin as to who has the advantage. Marvin Kloss has firmly established himself among the nation's elite kickers. He has made 13 straight field goals (a school record) and doesn't show any signs of letting up. His leg strength has increased - putting more kicks in the end zone. As for the punting game, Mattias Ciabatti continues to keep offenses backed up with his 40-plus average. The kick return game has started to come along as well. USF has met its match kicking-wise.


Another second-year coach, Justin Fuente came to Memphis from TCU and led the Tigers to a 4-8 record in 2012. He's off to about the same start in 2013, and has had to deal with some ball-control issues. Game experience, however - Fuente is still in his second year as a head coach - as opposed to Taggart, who has a few years under his belt at Western Kentucky. The two have never met head-to-head. /Willie Taggart knows his young team, and has played several of the class of 2013 with amazing results - none moreso than the emergence of Mike White as the Bulls' starting QB. It's the faith in the younger guys that makes Taggart a coach players want to play for. He flat-out challenged Marcus Shaw when he arrived and Shaw has responded. The staff continues to grow together, and we see the Bulls coaching staff as having the advantage.



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