Bulls Look To Get Back On Winning Track

By on November 6, 2015

Tracks Failey / RSEN photo

Travis Failey / RSEN photo

It very well could be an understatement, but this could be the most important game of the year for the South Florida Bulls. On the verge of bowl eligibility and getting ready to face the top two teams in the Eastern Division of the American Athletic Conference the next two weeks, the Bulls have “…no room for error” according to Bulls coach Willie Taggert.
The Bulls travel to Greenville, NC this week to take on divisional foe: East Carolina Pirates.
About ECU: Coming off a 31-13 loss to UCONN last week, the Pirates come into the game with a 4-5 record (2-3 in the conference) and on a 2 game losing streak. They are led by Mike Leach disciple Ruffin McNeil, who is entering his sixth season at his alma mater. The Pirates come in using a dual quarterback system consisting of James Summers and Blake Kemp. Kemp is the leading passer, throwing for 1,878 yards and his favorite target is Isiah Jones. Jones is the leading receiver on the team with 70 catches, which ranks him first in the AAC and fifth in the nation. As a team, the Pirates average 416.4 ypg throwing on 53.65% of downs.
Defensively, the Pirates line up in a 3-4 defensive scheme and are led by Junior SLB Montese Overton and Senior Zach Bigger. Overton is second in the conference with 7.5 sacks while Bigger, the 2014 AAC tackles leader, has 69 tackles this season. As a team, the Pirates allow opponents to average 6.2 yards on first downs. They are also ninth in the conference allowing opponents to score 29.3 ppg.

Marlon mack turns the corner.  Mack had 107 yards on 20 carries.

Marlon Mack turns the corner. Mack had 107 yards on 20 carries vs Memphis. (Travis Failey / RSEN photo)

USF: Let’s just go ahead and say it. Last week’s game against Navy was ugly. The Bulls rushed for a season low 62 yards. Marlon Mack was the leading rusher with 29 yards. I repeat 29 yards! Luckily for the Bulls, they are taking on a team that allows 177.1 rushing ypg and gave up 220 rush yards to UCONN last week. During their three game win streak, the Bulls were averaging 250 plus yards while averaging 37 points per game. To get back to their winning ways, the Bulls must utilize the run game. Here’s a hint: maybe try the two tight end set again. It worked well against UCONN and allowed Mack to rush for over 100 yards on 13 carries, including a 59 yard run. The Bulls should have no problem moving the ball against the Pirates, who come into the game giving up 412.2 ypg
The defense was just as bad as the offense last week. Linemen missed assignments, an untimely penalty by Johnny Ward, were just a few of the factors that contributed to the Bulls losing the game. The Bulls come into the game ranked fourth in the conference with 21 sacks. ECU has allowed 22 sacks thru 9 games, which if the Bulls want to be aggressive, could benefit Jamie Byrd and Auggie Sanchez. Sanchez is fifth in the league and 41st nationally averaging 8.8 tackles per games.

Auggie Sanchez (Travis Failey / RSEN photo)

Auggie Sanchez (Travis Failey / RSEN photo)

Prediction: Statistically speaking, both teams rank in the middle of the conference in all major statistical categories. Both teams have 4 wins and are playing for bowl eligibility. The loser will see their bowl dreams suffer a significant setback. Another close game but the Bulls win 35-27.

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