The Bulls are at a crossroads.
For those of you saying the season is dead. Stop It.
First of all there are two home games left against two quality opponents and two road games that the squad should win. If things go well it's a 10-2 record and a bowl game somewhere. Maybe a top 10 finish and if some breaks fall in the right direction, a trip to New Orleans for the New Year.
Cincinnati provides a good test of this team's character because that was one of the two games that USF truly got whipped in last season. The Bearcats beat the Bulls 23-6 and that almost makes the game seem close.
I wouldn't be surprised if Matt Grothe still has flashbacks from running into walls disguised as Bearcat defenders. It was the type of game that USF has outgrown despite back-to-back losses on the road. Sure they lost to Rutgers and UConn, but they weren't embarassed like that Sunday night in Cincinnati last year.
So I'd like to see a nice crowd. I'm not expecting anymore sellouts but can we get 50,000 to the game on Saturday afternoon. It promises to be a pretty nice day and it's the last day of daylight savings time and one final chance to booze up before it gets dark at 5:30 p.m.
Inside the Offense.
I needed to figure somethings out about the Bulls offense so bear with me here.
A) 393.5 B) 401
A) 13 B) 3
A) 350 B) 204
A) 108 B) 82
Every number under "A)" is related to the Bulls first six games (6-0)
Every number under "B)" is related to the Bulls last two games (2-0)
-- First line is the offense average per game
-- Second line is the total number of turnovers
-- Third line is Matt Grothe's total rushing yards
-- Fourth line is the per game average of the three-headed running back (Ford, Williams, Taylor)
So the offense has improved week-to-week in terms of yards. Obviously the high against UCF and the low against West Virginia skews the numbers slightly, but nothing noticable.
And the running backs production has dropped greatly with their touches as the season has progressed. Against Auburn, Mike Ford had 21 carries. Against UConn, the three-headed running back had 17 touches total.
Why such a change in philosophy. I understand Ford is injured, but Taylor and Williams are healthy and both showed last week that they have the ability to run well if given the opportunity.
Under The Gun: Cedric Hill might not be blocking as strong as he was five weeks ago but he's done an exceptional job at getting himself involved in the passing game. The 6-3, 240-pounder has already equalled his total number of receptions from last season (11) and he's on pace for a 20-25 catch season. With Taurus Johnson and Amarri Jackson banged up for this week's game, I expect Hill to continue to see the football across the middle of the field and record at least one reception of over 25 yards.
He Said It: "The month of November is a huge month for us. You really need to play your best football during that stretch. That's something that is important for whatever team wants to make a big move throughout the conference." -- Jim Leavitt
Inside the Defense
0 -- 100-yard rushing games the Bulls yielded through its first six games of the season.
1 -- 100-yard rushing game from a Cincinnati running back this season. Butler Benton rushed for 101 yards in a 59-3 victory over Southeast Missouri State in the season opener. The second highest total is 94 yards by quarterback Ben Mauk in a 24-17 loss to Pittsburgh on Oct. 20
2 -- 100 yards rushing games the Bulls have given up in their last two games.
6 -- Cincinnati victories over Top 25 teams
60 -- Cincinnati losses over Top 25 teams.
When Cincinnati Has the Ball: Although the Bearcats have a pretty balanced attack they also tend to lean on their quarterback in tight games. In the last three weeks Ben Mauk has attempted 114 passes and 31 rushes. The Bearcats are 1-2 during that stretch. During the first five weeks of the season Mauk attempted 80 passes and 17 rushes. Now Mauk missed one game with an injury and played sparingly in another but Cincinnati started the season 5-0. It's not brain surgery.
Under the Gun: Ben Moffitt has been firing up his teammates this week and that gives me the impression that the Butkus Award candidate is ready to make some big plays on Saturday.
He Said It: "[Ben] just got up and told us the past two weeks we may have let the media of the games that we've won get to our head and we need to get back to being the team that we were in the first six games. He said don't let your teammates down. It was a great speech and we all took it to heart." -- George Selvie on Ben Moffitt.
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