From the other side: SMU vs. South Florida

Pony Stampede talked with Tampa Bay Times beat writer Joey Knight about the USF Bulls, who visit SMU on Saturday.

Billy Embody: USF has that two-headed monster in Quinton Flowers and Marlon Mack in the backfield that have this offense humming right now having not scored less than 30 points each week. What about the offense has improved this year to allow for such great success this season and build off last year?

Joey Knight: "Continuity has been the key. This is the second year of Willie Taggart's "Gulf Coast Offense," and the system has become second-nature to the players. To be sure, Flowers, Mack and a third "head" — senior WR Rodney Adams — make it hum. Adams (49 catches, 671 yards) is the jet-sweep extraordinaire (he had a 92-yard TD run via jet sweep at Memphis), while Mack (853 rushing, 207 receiving yards) catches a ton of short throws in space. And Flowers? Well, he's simply the best player in program history. He's the only Bull to run for 1,000 yards and throw for 2,000 in the same season, and one of only 14 Division I players to ever run and pass for 200-plus yards in the same game. Few at this level can improvise like him."

Rob Bridenstine

BE: The defense on the other hand has regressed a little bit this season it seems. What has it been for this defense that has been the difference?

JK: "Taggart will say tackling has been the glaring problem, and it's tough to disagree. The linebackers in the Bulls' 4-2-5 alignment have struggled to remain in gaps, and the defensive ends — where USF was inexperienced entering the season — have been outmatched at times. Considering the Bulls returned several starters and preserved the scheme from last season's team, new coordinator Raymond Woodie has been a lightning rod of criticism. His unit ranks 108th nationally against the run (224.4 ypg)."

BE: Nobody has really been able to slow down USF too much on offense. What's the best way to attack this offense and slow them down?

JK: "Keep them off the field. When facing a high-tempo attack with several dimensions, the best defense is a ball-control offense. Temple had the most success with that approach, controlling the ball for 39:07 and amassing 319 rushing yards in a 46-30 victory."

BE: What is it about Auggie Sanchez that makes him so good at the linebacker spot for USF?

JK: "Sanchez, the quarterback of the defense, is instinctive, intelligent and tough. He'd likely be the first to acknowledge he hasn't enjoyed his best season, but his 85 tackles and six sacks still lead USF — by far."

BE: What's your feeling on this game? Got a prediction for this road test for the Bulls?

JK: "Another NBA game on turf. Thanks to Ben Hicks' gradual evolution and some weapons around him, SMU will score its points, but not enough to pull off an upset. USF's simply to explosive. I could see a 55-35 score."

Pony Stampede Top Stories