Scouting USF Bulls Defense and Special Teams

While the Gators pretty much know what to expect from the USF offense, predicting what the Bulls will do on defense is a little bit more difficult. New defensive coordinator Marc Snyder was in that role at Ohio State for four years (2001-04) during which time the Buckeyes were 40-11 and won the BCS Championship Game over Miami.

Snyder's defenses liked to utilize zone blitz packages and often featured linebackers.

However, opening day the Bulls showed just a couple of fronts and a couple of coverages as they kept things "very vanilla" and, thus kept the Gators substantially in the dark.

The depth chart lists a typical 4-3-4 alignment, but if you look at Snyder's history you can expect to see five guys right up on the line with eight guys in the box and any combination of 3-7 of them capable of attacking any given play. He also has liked being in nickel and dime coverage and will do it a lot if they can control the running game.

Up front you have a couple of 300-pound tackles in Terrell McClain and Corey Grissom. They do a nice job of plugging the middle. The ends David Bedford and Craig Marshall (5 career sacks) are not playmakers. This position marks the biggest difference for USF due to the loss of pass rushers Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie. They managed just one sack against Stony Brook, and none by a starter. That is not a good sign.

LB is another place where USF is just okay. The best LBs are probably Devekian Lattimore and Sabbath Joseph. Curtis Weatherspoon is listed third on the depth chart but he was active against Stony Brook and had six tackles.

The secondary appears to have pretty good size and speed and will be an interesting match up with the Florida receivers who were kind of ignored in the Miami game with just six catches by the entire WR corps. They have key veterans back there in CB Quenton Washington and S turned CB Mystral Raymond. Raymond made the move to corner in part due to the mergence of junior Jerrell Young, and freshman Mark Joyce at safety. This appears to be a pretty solid unit, but they did allow for opponents to top 30 points last year even with the outstanding edge rushers.

Special Teams ---- Skip Holtz has emphasized special teams throughout his career, but the Bulls have a long way to go here. They were pretty lousy on special teams last year and didn't show much improvement in this season's opener. Returning PK Eric Schwartz (11-for-16 in '09) was just 1-for-2 Saturday. New punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann punted just once against Stony Brook for 37 yards. His other punt attempt ended when his knee touched while fielding a low snap.

PR Faron Hornes muffed one Saturday night. KOR was awful, averaging less than 14 per return, but kick coverage was very good. They did block a Stony Brook punt.

*************************************************************

USF is clearly better than Miami in just about every aspect, though I believe Miami has a slightly better passing game. USF has much more speed and Florida will have to takes its game up several notches.

The Gators are better than the Bulls, but Ole Miss is better than Jacksonville State. It guarantees nothing. The Gators need to execute the basics and include more downfield passing in order to significantly improve on last week's paltry 212 yards of total offense. Defensively Florida has to continue to try and develop a pass rush and show more creativity and aggressiveness in their blitz packages. It'll also be interesting to monitor each squad's special teams since both struggled quite a bit opening day.


Fightin Gators Top Stories