Bulls Look to Anchor Navy

By on October 30, 2015

anchorDuring their three game win streak, the South Florida Bulls have been challenged by a number of different offenses and defenses. They Bulls have had to overcome the multiple offensive formations of Syracuse, a pesky defense and the pass happy offense of the SMU Mustangs. Now, the Bulls face another challenge. A challenge that will be their toughest test yet. The challenge, should they choose to accept it (and they will), stop the Navy Midshipmen triple option.

A look at Navy: Record 5-1, 3-0 American Athletic Conference

The Midshipmen are led by Keenan Reynolds, a senior making his 39th career start. Reynolds took over his freshman season starting the final eight games of the season, recording a 26-12 record as starting quarterback. Reynolds runs the triple-option with the precision of surgeon, leading a team that ranks 5th in the nation, rushing for 301.7 ypg. Reynolds

(Travis Failey / RSEN)

(Travis Failey / RSEN)

is two touchdowns away from tying Montee Balls’ NCAA record of 77 rushing touchdowns. As a team, the Midshipmen average 34.8 ppg and have only committed four turnover the whole season.

Defensively, the Midshipmen are just as tough. The Midshipmen are third in the conference giving up 362.8 ypg while having created 13 turnovers on the season. Furthermore, the Midshipmen rank second in the conference allowing 19.2 ppg. If the Midshipmen have a weakness it is on third down, allowing the opposing team to convert 44.6% of the third down opportunities.

Quinton Flowers and the Bulls ran all over the SMU Mustangs (Photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

Quinton Flowers and the Bulls ran all over the SMU Mustangs (Photo Travis Failey / RSEN)

A look at USF: The Bulls are looking to win three-straight conference games for the first time since 2011. The resurgent Bulls offense have been led by sophomores Marlon Mack and Quinton Flowers. Behind the tandem of Mack and Flowers, the Bulls are averaging 250 plus rushing yards and 37 ppg during the current three game win streak. With Mack sidelined last week, Flowers rushed for a career high and USF QB record 201 yards against SMU. As a team, the Bulls average 408.6 ypg, with 19 scoring drives of 2 minutes or less on the year.

Defensively, the Bulls defense is allowing 379.8 ypg, allowing opponents to rush for 127.4 ypg (4th in conference). The Bulls defense is ninth in FBS averaging 8.1 tackles for loss per game. Jamie Byrd has been a man amongst boys the past two games with 22 tackles, 4 sacks and 2 forced fumbles to go along with 6.5 tackles for loss.

Keys to Bulls Victory: How can the Bulls beat Navy? It’s simple…stop the triple-option. Sounds easy doesn’t it? Not so fast. To stop the triple-option, the Bulls must be disciplined. As Navy head coach, Ken Niumatalolo stated, “Stopping the triple-option isn’t usually about the scheme but rather making sure the players execute it.” The Bulls could mimic Tulane, who last week, held Navy to 133 rushing yards (lowest total since 2013) by covering up all five linemen as well as putting nine defenders up close to the line of scrimmage. In reality, Bulls’ defenders must stick to their assignments, they must execute and force Navy into third-and-long situations.

Final Analysis: Navy comes in one victory away from bowl eligibility. A victory for the Bulls would almost guarantee them a spot in a bowl game for the first time since 2010. The Bulls offense continues its hot streak as the Bulls squeak out a victory over the Midshipmen 37-31.

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