USF football’s defensive line has been a strength this year with senior George Selvie and junior Jason Pierre-Paul as two of the Big East’s best.
But perhaps its toughest test of the season will come Thursday when the Bulls travel to Rutgers.
The Scarlet Knights’ offensive line returned all five starters from last season, including preseason All-American Anthony Davis and Ryan Blaszczyk, who was on the preseason watch list for the Rimington Trophy, which is awarded to the most outstanding center in the nation.
“They’re a physical football team,” USF defensive coordinator Joe Tresey said. “They’re big up front. We have to be ready for the challenge both mentally and physically. They’re going to run the football.”
That physicality challenged USF in the last two years against Rutgers.
In 2007, Ray Rice rushed for 181 yards in the Scarlet Knights’ 30-27 win over then-No. 2 USF. Last year, Rutgers rushed for 135 yards and three touchdowns in its 49-16 stomping of the Bulls at Raymond James Stadium.
However, USF junior defensive end Craig Marshall said the Bulls can put pressure on Rutgers’ quarterback Tom Savage by using their speed on the outside.
“He likes to sit in the pocket,” Marshall said. “We’re just going to try and put a lot of pressure on him so he makes bad decisions.”
Rutgers has given up 22 sacks in eight games while the Bulls have 18 but only three in the last two games against Rutgers. Marshall said getting through the Rutgers line is the first priority.
“They have a pretty big line, but it’s not the biggest line we’ve played this season,” he said. “We’re just going to have to try to use our speed as an advantage and not let them get a hold of us.”
Homecoming game time set
USF’s Homecoming game against Louisville on Nov. 21 will begin at noon, USF announced Monday.
The game has been selected as the Big East Network Game of the Week. The Bulls have three wins over Louisville in the last four years.
There will be a watch party Thursday for the USF-Rutgers game on the lawn of Juniper-Poplar Hall, hosted by the WIN Foundation.
To be admitted, individuals must bring two new, regular-sized, women’s toiletries (shampoo, conditioner, body wash, face wash, deodorant and shaving cream).
The first 25 people will receive a $10 Adidas gift card. The game begins at 7:30 p.m.