The Bulls put up 65 points on Cincinnati last year, running for 361 yards (6.8 yards per carry) and posted 561 total yards in the blowout victory. This year, USF is averaging 257.8 yards per game on the ground while the Bearcats are allowing just 130 yards per game through the first four weeks. Will USF be able to run through their ranks again? Here are some of their key defenders to watch in this match-up.
The Cincinnati defense is led by senior linebacker Eric Wilson (6’2″ 225 lbs.) who has 42 tackles (leads the team) with 4.5 TFL, 3 sacks, and 1 PBU. He had 2 tackles in the game last year. Next to him at linebacker is fellow senior linebacker Antonio Kinard (6’4″ 216 lbs.) who has 33 tackles with 2.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks, and 2 PBUs. They will be matched up against the USF ground game led by Marlon Mack who scored two rushing touchdowns against them last year. With Darius Tice now out for the year, the Bearcats will also get a healthy dose of D’Ernest Johnson who has three rushing touchdowns on the season as well. A key stat to note is the number of tackles for loss the defense has put together which stands at 26 along with 10 sacks. If they aren’t stopping the run, they will be getting after the passer which could cause issues for Quinton Flowers both running the ball and when he drops back in the passing game.
In the passing game, there are two safeties that Flowers and the wide receivers will have to account for down the field. Sophomore safety Tyrell Gilbert (6’1″ 200 lbs.) has 18 tackles and 2 interceptions on the season. Senior safety Mike Tyson (love the name for the record) (6’2″ 201 lbs.) has 12 tackles and 3 interceptions. Both lead a unit that has 10 interceptions as a team on the year, showing their ability to force turnovers. Flowers threw four touchdowns against them last year, but did throw two picks as well. Flowers is completing just 51% of his passes on the year, which is a concerning number. If Flowers is off on his throws, like he was at times against FSU, the Bearcats have the athletes in the secondary to create turnovers. Flowers will need to hit his receivers like Rodney Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling (who had zero receptions against FSU) and allow them to pile up the yardage totals.
by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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