With the arrival of fall in Florida we officially celebrate the temperature change from the mid-90s to the low-80s, the end of daily precipitation and, unfortunately, the beginning of the annual USF football swoon.
History has an odd way of repeating itself but that only happens due to a human error or purpose. USF's history repeats itself because USF players and coaches haven't found a way to change it. The loss to Cincinnati wasn't just disappointing because it happened; USF has lost to Cincy before. It was the way it happened and the familiar taste it left in your mouths.
It was that bitter taste, sort of like castor oil, and it made you say, "here we go again".
Well on Saturday the hope is that the Bulls can alter the course of history a little if not change it completely with a victory over Pittsburgh. A road victory in October over a ranked team would not only be a nice bounce back for this program but a statement that 2009 is a different year and this is a different team.
Weather Update: Should be a nice day in Pittsburgh with the temperatures in the low-60s and a 12-15 MPH breeze. There is a threat of morning rain showers.
USF Running Game vs. Mike Canales: Last week the USF offensive coordinator hinted that he might have gotten away from the run too soon. It would be in the team's best interest not to do that on Saturday. Pittsburgh's front four is solid, probably as good as any in the conference, and if they don't feel the need to respect USF's ground game it's going to be a tough day for B.J. Daniels. Both Mike Ford and Mo Plancher need around 15 carries each, maybe more.
USF's Rush Defense vs. Pitt RB Dion Lewis: No need to worry about a rotation here. Pitt has ridden Lewis to the finish line several times this season and the freshman running back is on pace to rush for 1,600 yards and 16 touchdowns – surely enough to capture the Big East Freshman of the Year title. In close wins vs. Connecticut and Rutgers, Lewis has had a combined 55 carries for 338 yards – an average of close to 6.2 yards per carry. USF's interior defensive line was gashed last week by Cincinnati and could have another rough outing without some serious adjustments.
USF Defense vs. Pitt on First Downs: The best way to neutralize Lewis would be for USF"s defense to win first down and force the Panthers into second and third and long situations. Pitt's veteran quarterback Bill Stull has been very accurate and sound this season, but he hasn't faced a pass rush like USF's and it's going to be in Pitt's game plan to make sure that he doesn't face those situations too often. If USF can win the battle on first down and force Stull to throw more than the plan calls for, it's going to be a Bull victory.
Coachspeak: "They do everything off the run game; I don't see any weaknesses in their offensive line. We're looking at film trying to figure out what to do." – USF head coach Jim Leavitt