As USF prepares for its first conference game of the 2016 season, we wanted to get some inside information on the Bearcats. I talked with Jesse Smith of Bearcat Insider to answer some questions heading into this game.
The Bulls won 65 to 27 last year in what became the highest scoring performance USF ever put together against an FBS opponent, and the most ever against a conference foe. What was the talk around town after that game from both the coaches and from the fans?
Fans were pissed about the showing last season, the Bulls kicked the Bearcats back sides. With USF coming to town today it is breading excitement because the fan base knows the Bulls a top notch team. Head coach Tommy Tuberville has addressed the performance from last season and stated the Bulls may be the most talented team in the American Athletic Conference, so this game will be a real test for the Bearcats.
Hayden Moore is off to a great start this season? How was he able to beat out veteran Gunner Kiel for the starting job after last year?
Hayden Moore out performed Gunner Kiel in the spring and in camp, Kiel missing a lot of spring ball gave Moore a chance to grab a hold of a the position and he hasn’t let go.
I watched the Houston game and noticed a lot of break downs in the Cincinnati secondary, yet your group has 10 interceptions on the year. Was the Houston game just a bunch of mismatches or have there been coverage issues in the secondary?
Honestly the secondary has been pretty solid overall, but the main thing is injuries, senior safety Zach Edwards missed that game due to a leg injury and the Bearcats other safety Tyrell Gilbert missed a few plays during the game which didn’t help also. The Cougars are going to get explosive plays against anybody so I take that with a grain of salt.
The Bearcats have won eight of thirteen previous all time showdowns against the Bulls, and were victorious in five of the last six contests in Cincinnati. Despite last seasons route, do you feel the Bearcats have a home advantage at Nippert Stadium? And in your opinion how have both new coordinators OC Zac Taylor and DC Robert Prunty performed thus far in 2016?
Nippert Stadium will definitely be a home field advantage, it will be Saturday and a night game, barring terrible weather “The Nip” will be rocking. I think Zac is doing a solid job, the main thing is he is doing a good job staying balanced on the offensive attack, they just need the offensive line to stay consistent in the run game and not miss on the “gimme” big plays. As for Prunty he’s been attacking more this year, but a lot of people don’t know he was the co-defensive coordinator last season also and with him and co-defensive coordinator Jeff Koonz this pairing has made the defense a lot better from last season.
UC linebacker Eric Wilson tops the AAC in tackles, averaging 10.5 tackles per game. But, USF will arrive in Cincinnati Saturday with the No. 13 rushing offense, No. 9 scoring offense, and No. 21 overall offense in the FBS. To boot, the Bulls’ 51 first half points in 2015 were the most allowed by a Bearcat defense since November 10, 1990, when UC trailed No. 12 Florida State 49-7. Despite USF coming off a Dalvin Cook demolition derby in the 55-35 loss to the Seminoles, how do the Bearcats plan to slow down the explosive ‘Gulf Coast’ offense?
Honestly, I think they will attack Flowers and try to make him be more of a passer. If they can get off the field on third down then the defense will be able to stay rested. The Bearcats can’t allow Flowers to do whatever he wants out there. The defensive line has been playing well as of late and Wilson along with Antonio Kinard (linebacker) have been flowing to the ball very well so far this season, so with that being said the front seven must fill gaps and not miss tackles.
Thanks again to Jesse for answering some of questions. Make sure to follow Jesse on Twitter (@TeezyT) for coverage of the Cincinnati Bearcats.
by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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