TSX Inside Slant: USF vs. West Viginia

The Bulls travel to West Virginia for the first of back-to-back road games, and the match-up will be challenging. The Mountaineers have assumed the favorite's role in the conference after starting out 4-1, and the Bulls will be up against the Big East's toughest defense while facing the league's third-most productive offense. The Sports Xchange gives its inside slant on the USF vs. WVU match-up.

USF is about to embark on an unusual stretch of games timing-wise with its Thursday night encounter at West Virginia.

The game is the first in a three-game stretch of midweek clashes with a Friday night affair at Cincinnati to follow on Oct. 22 and then another Wednesday night game on Nov. 3 against Rutgers.

The Bulls don't get back to Saturdays until Nov. 13, when they are host to Louisville.

Coach Skip Holtz was still lamenting his team's poor play in the home loss to Syracuse as he readied the Bulls for their trip to West Virginia.

"I'm gonna start by looking backwards to what was really a disappointing week," he said at his early game week press conference. "And I say disappointing, not just because we lost, but disappointing because we are a football team and we have so many things that we are improving on.

"So many things that were going well, to have a lack of productivity as an offensive football team when we lose a game we not only should have won, but we very easily could have won, it was very disappointing."

Things look to be tougher against West Virginia.

The Bulls will be up against the Big East's toughest defense while facing the league's third-most productive offense. The Mountaineers are averaging 392.0 yards a game rushing and passing while holding foes to a stingy 254.6 per game.

The latter figure ranks as the seventh-best in the country.

NOTES, QUOTES

--USF went 2-1 on its three-game homestand and will have another stretch of three consecutive games at home after playing West Virginia and Cincinnati on the road. Starting with a visit from Rutgers on Nov. 3, the Bulls also are home against Louisville on Nov. 13 and against Pittsburgh on Nov. 20.

--QB B.J. Daniels goes into the game at West Virginia with the possibility of hitting the 1,000-yard mark in rushing. He has 960 career yards in less than a season-and-a-half.

--The Bulls had problems with pass protection the last two games, giving up eight sacks. They surrendered only four in their first three games combined.

SERIES HISTORY: USF leads West Virginia, 3-2 (last meeting, 2009, 30-19 USF).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: USF ranks fourth in the Big East in running the football, averaging 176.2 ypg, but will be up against a West Virginia defense that is allowing only 86.8 ypg, second stingiest in the league. RB Moise Plancher leads the Bulls with 289 yards in five games, and the offense should get a boost from sophomore Demetris Murray. QB B.J. Daniels has been spotty in his passing, completing 52.6 per cent of his passes with seven interceptions against only four touchdown throws.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense is holding opponents to a league low 155.0 ypg passing and ranks fourth in the conference overall in total yardage surrendered (301.2 ypg). The Bulls have been particularly tough in the Red Zone, holding opponents to nine scores in 13 trips inside their 20-yard line. Only six of the scores were touchdowns. The Bulls also have come alive in pressuring the quarterback and have 14 sacks, third best in the conference.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "When you get punched in the mouth, you've got to get back up and go get the next guy." -- QB B.J. Daniels, in the Tampa Tribune, on reacting to the loss to Syracuse.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: USF at West Virginia, Oct. 14 -- This will be the first of back-to-back road games in Big East play for the Bulls, who are at Cincinnati next. The Mountaineers have assumed the favorite's role in the conference after starting out 4-1 with the lone loss at unbeaten LSU by just six points. The Mountaineers are playing their league opener while the Bulls dropped their debut against Syracuse.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Stop West Virginia RB Noel Devine. Devine is rushing for 95.0 ypg and has the ability to break off a big play. USF QB B.J. Daniels must break the habit of throwing ill-conceived passes into coverage that result in interceptions.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

WR Dontavia Bogan -- Bogan has come back from an ankle injury and is leading the Bulls in receiving with 13 receptions for 231 yards. He is capable of getting the kind of big play the Bulls are going to need to juice up their offense. He has two of the team's five touchdown receptions.

DE Craig Marshall -- Marshall has found his way to the quarterback the last two games and now has a team-best four sacks on the year. He has two other tackles for loss among his 22 tackles and also has an interception.

WR Lindsey Lamar -- Lamar has only five receptions for 38 yards on the season but showed his big-play potential with a 94-yard kickoff return against Syracuse for USF's only touchdown.

ROSTER REPORT:

--CB Mistral Raymond (leg) is probable against West Virginia.

--WR Sterling Griffin (ankle) could make his season debut against the Mountaineers. He was injured during the summer.

--LT Jamar Bass (ankle) is questionable for West Virginia after sitting out the game against Syracuse.

--FS Jerrell Young (ankle) is listed No. 1 on the depth chart for the game.


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