Earlier this year, I took notes on South Florida’s play against Big East competition (I believe I was watching their game against Cincinnati, but I can’t say with certainty. I’ve watched far too many college games this fall). I paid particular attention to their defense since their offense is essentially predicated on the play of Matt Grothe. Here’s what I have written down in my notepad:
They ran the ball a lot up the middle on first down. There was not a lot of action outside the tackles and most of the run plays gained very little yardage. They did mix it up on a few plays, trying misdirection runs with Grothe out of the shotgun and a few reverses. But, for the most part, they tried pounding it up the middle with little success. With the recent play of Tverdov and Silvestro, I feel confident we can stop them if they try to do the same against us.
Their wide receivers looked like they would fit in at Rutgers. From what I remember, there were some drops on a few throws that should have been caught. One thing to note though: 6 different players recorded a pass. They spread the ball around.
Obviously, Grothe is what makes their offense go. We need to make sure we’re always aware of what he’s doing in the pocket. Getting pressure on him is going to be key, and I definitely think we’ll be able to do it. Force him into mistakes and capitalize. There will be instances where he’ll throw balls into coverage, just begging to be picked. We need to make sure we’re always prepared in the secondary. If a ball can be intercepted, we need to come up with it.
The defensive line used quite a few stunts from what I recall. Led by George Selvie, they were fast, agile, and swarmed quickly. Protecting Teel and giving him time will be key, as it is for almost all our games. On one play, South Florida blitzed, but gave up a huge play down-field to Gilyard. Cincy’s offensive line did a great job picking up the blitz, giving Tony Pike time to step up in the pocket and deliver the ball downfield.
And speaking of Gilyard, he had a big game, which makes me think Tim Brown could do the same. The Bulls’ new corners are nowhere near as impressive as their predecessors, so we should be able to air the ball out quite a bit on Saturday.
Cincy used a hurry-up offense in the 2nd quarter and it worked quite well. At times this year, we’ve seen how good our hurry-up can be, so I wouldn’t be shocked if we used it on a drive or two or more.
Additionally, the short pass was there all day for Pike. Whenever Cincy was in 3rd and manageable, they succeeded in picking up the first down fairly consistently. That might be something to pay attention to.