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After a week off to heal and rest up, the Bulls, 7-2 (4-1), now hit the road for a game against Memphis (game begins at 7 PM). The Tigers are 6-3 (3-2) on the season and are 4-1 at home this year. Memphis beat USF 24 to 14 last year so you have to figure the Bulls will be looking for some revenge in this game.
To get prepared for the game, let’s start by taking a look at the Memphis offense. Their offense averages 38 points per game while running for 155.9 yards a game and 449 yards overall. The Bulls on the other hand are allowing 30 points a game and 466 yards overall. USF has struggled all season to stop the run so we could see the Tigers come out running early and often. However, that’s not typically how the Tigers attack on offense, preferring to air it out.
Leading the passing attack this year is junior Riley Ferguson (6’4″ 210 lbs.) who is 193 for 304 (63%) for 2565 yards including 21 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Ferguson is an accurate passer and has put up some big numbers, but has been sacked 25 times this season. It will be on the USF front seven to get pressure and throw off the Tiger passing game. Players like Nigel Harris who has eight tackles for loss and two interceptions on the season have to get in Ferguson’s face and throw off his timing.
Ferguson’s top target in the passing game is redshirt junior wide receiver Anthony Miller (5’11” 190 lbs.) who has 57 receptions for 624 yards (16 yards per catch) and has seven receiving touchdowns. Lining up next to Miller is junior wide receiver Phil Mayhue (6’3″ 210 lbs.) who has 29 receptions for 421 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Both Miller and Mayhue are averaging over 15 yards a catch, showcasing how the Tigers like to go downfield in their passing game. If the front seven for the Bulls can’t get any kind of pressure, it will make life hard on the USF secondary.
Now, for the ground game, the Tigers are led by redshirt junior Doroland Dorceus (5’10” 215 lbs.) who has 89 carries for 559 yards (6.3 yards per carry) and has six rushing touchdowns (six catches for 37 yards and a score as well). Dorceus had 13 carries for just 33 yards in the game last year, but Dorceus did have one 55-yard catch for a touchdown. USF must watch Dorceus coming out of the backfield but he isn’t the only rushing threat for the Tigers backfield. Freshman Patrick Taylor (6’3″ 211 lbs.) has 57 carries for 359 yards (6.3 yards per carry) with two rushing touchdowns.
The Tigers have two backs that are averaging over six yards a carry and this scares me. Can Auggie Sanchez (had 12 tackles in the game last year) and the front seven slow down the run game? I stated the Tigers have the ability to air it out, but if they are able to find early success on the ground, they will slam it right into the teeth of the USF defense until they stop them, something they have not been able to do on a consistent basis throughout the year.
The Tigers are very good and their at home, just adding to the issues that scare me entering this game. I really hope our defense shows up and plays like they did in the first half against Navy. If not, it could be a long night for the defense once again.
by Matt Staton
SoFloBulls.com Columnist | @USFMatt
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