FanPost

Previewing The USF Game and The Spread

<!--[if gte mso 9]><xml> <o:OfficeDocumentSettings> <o:RelyOnVML /> <o:AllowPNG /> </o:OfficeDocumentSettings> </xml><![endif]-->We are now halfway through the season. We are finally seeing glimpses of the level at which our team can play. I know the sunshine helped some last weekend, and this week appears to be another nice one for football. TWC is forecasting around 60 and sunny with only 10% chance of rain. The CARDS will be playing a USF team that has underachieved this year, but one who returns a lot of players with experience. USF is also coming off of a bye week, and have had time to scheme against us. Remember, this team was picked just behind us in the Big East, and the QB B.J. Daniels was supposed to be neck and neck with Bridgewater. Again, UofL will be out for revenge, as the last game between these two teams at PJCS was a 24-21 Overtime loss for the CARDS. This week we will see if we can finally put together a full game.

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At the end of each section, I rate the advantage or disadvantage on a 5 point scale. -2, -1, Even, +1, or +2. 2 point advantages are reserved for very big advantages or disadvantages. Let’s begin.

  1. Offensive Line Play – USF has been held under 100 yards rushing twice this season, against Rutgers and Chattanooga. Yeah, Chattanooga held the Bulls to 85 yards on the ground. They have shown the ability to run the ball having two games in which they were able to run for more than 200 yards. They had 209 on the road against Nevada and 206 at Ball State, in defeat. The O-Line has given up 7 sacks on the year. This could change come Saturday. The D-Line knows they can get to the quarterback now. They have see how much harder they play and how much more fun it can be to get the QB on the ground. They do have some experience up front, but we should expect to see B.J. Daniels make some poor decisions and hold onto the ball too long at times and end up in the arms of a stranger on the ground. He has thrown 8 interceptions on the year, and USF as a team has 10 fumbles and has lost 6. CARDS +1
  2. The Run Game – Like I stated, the Run game is where this game could be won for either team. The ability to allow or negate the run game to develop is the secret to making a team one dimensional. If the CARDS can hold Demetris Murray to under 100 yards, expect bad things for the Bulls. Lindsey Lamar can run the ball as well, but has touched the ball less than half as many times as Murray. Daniels is the other real threat to run. With Dom Brown likely to redshirt barring unspeakables, I would not be surprised if he has been running the 2nd team offense to simulate the run/pass threat of B.J. Daniels. One thing I am worried about is wrapping him up in the open field. PITTS QB was able to make plays when everyone was covered downfield, we just have to have someone (maybe a Preston or Kieth) spy the QB. Either way, I see our Run Game and say we beat theirs 4 out of 5 games. CARDS +1
  3. Special Teams – CARDS -1 Enough said. Haha. But let’s look deeper. Punter Brockhaus-Kann averages around 41 yards per kick and has downed 12 of his 27 kicks inside the 20. He also has 4 punts for 50+ yards. Their Kicker, Bonani, is 5/7 with a block and a miss on the season (Both of which happened in their last game). He has a long of 46, so outside of that, expect to see USF go for it on 4th and short or anything around the 35. No one really stands out in their return game, but with the way our coverage has looked, someone could make a name for themselves. Last week, we had a punt blocked and recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and still just did not look great when covering Kick-offs. Our Kickers have just three touchbacks on 39 kickoffs this season, which offers a lot of opportunities for opponents to break a big one. Their kicker has 20 touchbacks on 29 kicks. That is why the Bulls get the point. CARDS –1
  4. Impact of "New" Players – Over the course of the bye week, USF re-opened tryouts for a lot of positions, mostly in the defensive backfield. Basically, Coach Holtz said that the defensive side of the ball could have some new faces playing some serious time over the 2nd half of the season. Their philosophy is that if they can have more fresh bodies on 3rd down in the game, they are more likely to make a big play or create more turnovers than a player who is worn down and tired. Defensive Back Chris Bivens Jr. could make a play or two in this game as a new face with good hands. While I do agree that the more fresh bodies they have on the field on 3rd downs is a good thing for them, I also look at the purpose of this “Re-Open Tryout.” It seems like the same reason UK would do it at this point in the year. They are trying to rejuvenate the team and get people playing above their skill level. The fact that they are trying to bring in new people to accomplish their goal is a clear negative rather than a positive at this point in the season. Keith “BAM” Brown has to be the biggest impact “New” player who has the ability to wrap people up, as evidence by his 23 tackles in really two games played. CARDS +1
  5. Coaching – KragHoltz has become a big-time term over the course of the last week. It is one that could stick and run him out of Tampa, or will vanish depending on the outcome of this game. The fact is to date, Holtz has not performed well as the head coach of the Bulls. His play calls have been predictable. His decision making has been PITT-worthy. With that being said, this game will all come down to coaching. With USF having a bye week to prepare for the CARDS, they can come in with a game plan that they have been meticulously working on for the last two weeks. Louisville has had one week to get ready for the Bulls, which most would say is more than enough time. Also, I’m not one to jump in front of the train; it’s much more comfortable to ride on this CSX. I know that Bedford has his boys excited and will have them pinning their ears back now that they know what they can do. I also look at Watson to have a big day with the ability to open up the playbook against an inexperienced Defensive backfield which is still without an interception on the season. Don’t doubt Coach Strong. Ever. Just don’t. CARDS +1
  6. Depth – USF is one of the more Senior laden teams in the country. They return 25 seniors and have 43 players coming back who lettered in 2011. They do have a lot of experience on this team, but for some reason, Holtz began this season by throwing in plenty of new faces from game one. In South Florida’s season opener against Chattanooga, 30 new players for USF saw action on the field. What does this say about USF? Their experience is not nearly as good as they wish it was. On the Red side of the ball, I have to say our depth and experience is around where you would want it. Even though we had a few guys out last week, like John Miller, James Burgess, and Dan Brown due to injury and B.J. Dubose due to… um… work ethic issues I guess, we were able to get along pretty well without them. Not having John Miller on the O-Line did allow the O-Line to get beat a couple times and let the defense get to Teddy. I don’t see this being a problem this week, especially if they are back. Also, if B.J. Dubose is back, expect him (or B.J. Butler) to get to the B.J. Daniels in this one and for the announcers to make at least on comment about “B.J., Meet B.J.” CARDS+1
  7. Defensive Pressure – This is a carry-over from where I ended the last section. Lorenzo Mauldin had arguably his best game of the season along with Brandon Dunn looking great last weekend. They pressure Bedford and company were able to get on a traditional pro style offense was just what the doctor ordered. Expect that to continue. The main challenge is containing Daniels inside the pocket. He is someone who can run and evade pressure. So long as the CARDS can limit Daniels ability to scamper, we should see him get frustrated and try to do too much, ultimately making some poor decisions. Our O-Line has done a pretty good job protecting TD Bridgewater. They have given up 13 sacks on the season, but he has still been able to impose his will on the opponent at his leisure. He never seems to let the situation or the pressure get him rattled. CARDS +1
  8. Expectations – Unlike that other team down the road, we still have football games to play this season. With the CARDS coming into this game undefeated and playing a South Florida team who has not impressed anyone this season, expectations are high. Fans have finally seen a defense that can get off the ball and get after the QB. We are still waiting for that complete game we all want to see so badly. The pressure is on Louisville, although Roy Philon said, “There is no added pressure, we have to take it one game at a time.” On the other side, Coach Holtz has pressure for a different reason. Everyone expects him to lose this one, and if he does, that hot seat could get a whole lot hotter. However, he knows how important a win would be for him and his program. This is one the CARDS cannot allow to stay close, because he is a desperate man who could do some desperate things to try to win a football game. He likely added a few wrinkles in the playbook over the bye week. Expecting much better things for the CARDS in this one. CARDS +1
  9. Position Edges – Coming into the season, Bridgewater and Daniels were neck and neck for the top QB in the Big East. Well, that is not quite the case anymore. Advantage TD. Our Run game and receivers are also better. So on offensive, the CARDS have the upper hand. On Defense, USF yet to pick off the opposing team, the only team in FBS without one. Bridgewater does not want to give these guys hope by throwing one to them. We should be able to pick apart their D, but they may be able to work on our DB’s as well. Still their Defense has issues, and Teddy is good. We should be able to run and pass on them. The wild card is on special teams. They have not shown the ability to win games on special teams alone, but the CARDS really need to sure up this area, especially the return game. All this being said, the CARDS have the advantage. CARDS +1
  10. Offensive Improvement – The offense looked good last week, and Watson and Strong finally allowed Teddy to stretch the field. Three possessions in a row, we threw the ball downfield with success. Against USF, expect them to do this a few times as well. If we connect on a couple, look out. The running game will open up, which will allow the passing game to be there. This could be a big week for the Offense. South Florida is going to have to improve off of their performance two weeks ago. The Bulls managed just 7 points against the Mighty Temple Owls in the first half. The finished the game with 28, losing 38-28. They were out-rushed 216-165 by Temple. They have got to pick up the pace if they want to have a chance this week. I don’t see it happening. B.J. Daniels should be able to have a pretty good day throwing the ball, but don’t expect them to be able to run the ball extremely effectively against the CARDS D. UofL has a chance to really look good in this one. CARDS +1

As of Thursday afternoon, the spread sits with the CARDS as a 6.5 point favorite from everywhere I have looked. I have them as an 8 point favorite. I think I would again take this one. But, this one could all come down to how well we contain Daniels. On paper, this looks like one where the CARDS are definitely the better team. It could go either way depending on how complete a game we play. I do think the CARDS win, and they win by at least a touchdown. Here is how I see the game playing out. USF gets the ball first and punts on their first possession. The CARDS take advantage, 7-0. The CARDS continue to look good on offense, but the defense allows a couple of touchdowns going into halftime, 20-14 (missed XP). The CARDS score on their first drive of the second half taking it to 27-14. The defense gives up a bad blown coverage arm tackling touchdown, which ignites the coaches pulling the players together asking what they said at halftime. They pull it together and create a couple of turnovers in the second half keeping the Bulls to just one more field goal, while the CARDS get another touchdown. The CARDS go on to win their 7th of the season and can begin looking forward to the Keg of Nails. OSM Pick: 34-24

A couple of quick hits, I will be wearing the same Anthony Conner Jersey and Black shorts, but this time with a CCBM on in full force! Come say, “Hi.” Time to Creep Hard! I do see Sunny Will Stein getting at least one snap in the second half after winning the title of Homecoming King, and getting a huge standing ovation. Also, expect to see at least two CCBM’s and a negative ABC sign on the broadcast of this one.

Beat Kentucky!!! Then Beat the Bears!!! Then Beat the Tar Heels!!! Then Beat FIU!!! Then Beat Southern Miss!!! Then Beat PITT!!!

Then Beat USF!!! Go CARDS!!!



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