As the Bulls head to historic South Bend to play Notre Dame, they'll be facing many challenges and one of them will be the Irish offense.
Heading to South Bend faces many obstacles for the Bulls, aside from the traditions and mystic of Notre Dame will be what they face on the field and of those challenges will be for USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder to contain the Fighting Irish potent offense.
"They have big play ability, and the ability to put up points on the board very fast," said Snyder. "They've got a couple of weapons out wide, they've got a tailback that's very elusive and a quarterback that does a great job distributing the football. They can score points in a hurry."
Usually a team has a tune up game to start the season, but with Notre Dame the Bulls don't have that luxury, and Snyder is ready for it.
"You get used to situations where you come out of the gate with a big game. I'm excited and it's going to be a challenge for us," said Snyder. "I think Brian Kelly is an excellent football coach and that's what keeps you up at night. He understands his system and he knows how to attack you. I've never been to Notre Dame before and with the environment will be in, it makes for an exciting first game that's for sure."
The Bulls have a stout defense with several veterans that have played in big games, but due to injuries, several players that haven't played will be on the field against the Irish.
"We'll be going into the game with some guys that haven't played," said Snyder. "But that's where you find out about them. It happens every year when you got to figure out who you can trust and who you can't. Now they have to come ready to play and that was what camp was for and hopefully we're there."
With the big-play ability of the Irish offense and star receiver Michael Floyd, coupled with several injuries to several back-ups at corner, Bulls 6-foot-2, 187 pound safety Jaquez Jenkins was moved to corner to help provide depth at the position.
"Thank goodness he moved. With some of the guys they'll face, and this Michael Floyd kid is as good as I've seen since Braylon Edwards, and I thought Braylon was pretty good, and he may be better than Braylon Edwards. To put a young corner that's never played out there, it frightens me and keeps me up at night."
Last year the Bulls faced a similar situation when the Bulls moved safety Mistral Raymond (Drafted by the Vikings) to corner to help with depth and that turned out to be a great move.
"It's exactly the same thing. He brings length to the position, he's got range, he can run and he's faster than Raymond," said Snyder. "JaQuez can run, and he's a physical guy too, it's not that Skinny wasn't, but this is a really good move for us."
"The problem is we're a little banged up at corner. We've got safeties. I have three safeties I feel comfortable with," Snyder said. "Jerrell Young looks like a different guy out there. He must have been hurt for thirteen games last year. When I watch film of practice, he's a different guy, and every time I look across the field it Jerrell making plays, and I didn't see that last year.""You also got Lejiste and you got Mark Joyce back there, who took his redshirt off last year, got his bumps and bruises and work in so we got a good three solid guys there, so JaQuez is going to be at corner for us, more than he's going to be at safety, unless we have an injury."
The Bulls face the Irish at 3:00 pm this Saturday to kick off the season.