The FSU defense was gashed for 63 points last weekend in Louisville, the most points allowed in program history in a single game. They are battling some injuries but we have to expect the Seminoles to come into this game prepared and ready to make a statement. Here are some of the key playmakers that USF has to look out for.
The FSU defense enters this game allowing 35 PPG while the USF offense is averaging 49 PPG, which looks good on paper for the Bulls. However, even with Derwin James out, the Seminoles will be ready for this game and will be looking for a better performance after last weekend. They will be relying on key players at all three levels to make plays and slow down the Gulf Coast offense.
Along the defensive line, senior defensive end DeMarcus Walker (6’3″ 280 lbs.) stands out. He has 15 tackles on the year, including 4.5 sacks and has forced 2 fumbles. With injuries to other players around him, Walker becomes an even bigger part of their pass rush and ability to stop the run. Quinton Flowers was 12 for 24 in the game last year for 125 yards and 2 touchdowns and ran the ball 14 times for just 38 yards. Expect Walker and crew to get after Flowers and put as much pressure on him as possible.
At the linebacker, the Seminoles are led by redshirt junior Matthew Thomas (6’3″ 227 lbs.) who has 20 tackles on the season with 2 tackles for loss. The linebackers will be matched up against the stable of USF running backs led by Marlon Mack. Mack went for 18 carries for 83 yards in the game last year, but will be looking for even more in this game. It will be interesting to see how the Bulls use Mack, D’Ernest Johnson, and Darius Tice in the ground game against them and how effective they will be against the linebackers and the front seven overall.
In the secondary, one of the key defensive backs is junior Trey Marshall (6′ 210 lbs.) who has 12 tackles with 1 pass break-up and another defended on the season. With Derwin James, the secondary will need athletes like Marshall to step and help control both the receivers down the field, but also the skill players on the perimeter. The Bulls went to the jet sweep a lot against Syracuse with a lot of success, but it could be different against the athletes of FSU. A key player to watch during this game will be Johnson for USF against the FSU secondary. Johnson had a big game as a receiver in the meeting last year with 5 receptions for 89 yards and 2 touchdowns. If the Seminoles shut down Rodney Adams and the other receivers, look for Johnson to be a target for Quinton Flowers in the passing game.
by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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