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Bulls look to survive ‘the barrel of a shotgun’

Published: Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 23:09

After a month of dodging questions and talks of a “one game at a time” philosophy, the week has arrived.

The USF football team has turned its attention to the No. 4 Florida State Seminoles.

Coach Skip Holtz compared preparing for the Seminoles to “looking down the barrel of a shotgun.”

“They’re definitely the best team we’ve faced since I’ve been here,” he said. “Statistically, their defensive numbers are just gaudy. They’re explosive (and) they’re fast but they’re extremely physical. Their leading tacklers are defensive lineman. I think that gives you insight that you won’t be able to get past their front four very often.”

On Saturday at 6 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium, the Bulls will line up against the Seminoles for the first time since they pulled off a 17-7 upset in Tallahassee in 2009.

“It’s an in-state school, and you know a lot of guys that play there,” senior linebacker Sam Barrington said. “It may be an out-of-conference game, but you definitely look to play well in it.”

After back-to-back losses to Rutgers and Ball State, junior wide receiver Terrence Mitchell said USF looks forward to quieting critics.

“A win would take a lot of talkers off our back — a lot of the outside slandering, like trying to kill the team, telling us we’re sorry, all that garbage kind of talk on networks, media (and) Facebook. This win would help. It’s not a Big East game, but we want to win this game.”

Though the Bulls have a history of winning major out-of-conference games — Auburn in 2007, Florida State in 2009, Miami in 2010 and Notre Dame in 2011 — two things are working against the team: location and ranking. While most of USF’s defining wins came on the road, it will face the Seminoles at home.

Additionally, Florida State tops the formerly highest-ranked team USF has ever faced, No. 5 West Virginia in 2007.

Barrington said execution would be vital in slowing down an offense that is averaging more than 574 yards and 56 points per game.

“I don’t know if it’s anything specific,” he said in reference to Holtz’s desire to see aggression from his front seven. “What I know is we need to execute better, we need to create turnovers, we need to get off the field on third down and we need to tackle well. Their quarterback does some great things and protects the ball well, so it’ll be important that we execute.”

Though the Seminole offense has put up impressive numbers through four games, including 7.5 yards per run and 293.5 passing yards per game, USF’s coaching staff has someone with experience against high-powered offenses.

Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh served as defensive coordinator at Kansas State for two years in the Big 12 — a conference that produced first round picks Sam Bradford, Ryan Tannehill and Robert Griffin III.

Cosh said the Seminole offense was reminiscent of his past.

“You kind of saw those numbers every week,” he said. “When you have guys like Tannehill, Griffin, Weeden at quarterback, you’ll see those kind of performances a lot and then they’ve got the running backs as well, so they have it in both areas.”

With preparations and practices behind them, and the shotgun barrel waiting on the horizon, the Bulls will look to upset the Seminoles for the second time in three years. Senior quarterback B.J. Daniels told media members that the team should not be counted out.

“I don’t think anyone gave us a chance in Tallahassee either,” he said. “But we’re not worried about how good the opponent is, we are worrying about what we need to do and what we can control.”

Join the USF Oracle for a live blog during the USF football game, at www.usforacle.com.

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