USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder acknowledged the Bulls’ strength on defense this season has been stopping the run. The Bulls rank fourth in the Big East, allowing 133 rushing yards per game.
And with one of the nation’s top running backs coming to town in Connecticut’s Jordan Todman, who is the nation’s second-leading rusher with 1,481 rushing yards this season (148 yards per game), there will be another opportunity for the USF defense to rise to the occasion.
“They’re a blue-collared team that leans on him quite a bit,” Snyder said of the 5-foot-9, 193-pound senior back, who averages 27 carries per game “He’s got tremendous balance. He’s got great patience.”
“I’ve talked to a few coaches in the league that have defended him already, and they’ve said kids have a hard time tackling him,” Snyder said. “We just got another heck of a challenge in front of us.”
Surgery for starter
Senior fullback Richard Kelly will undergo surgery today after breaking his right thumb against Miami. Holtz said Kelly, who has played in all 10 games (seven starts), is questionable for Saturday’s game at Connecticut.
“He’s a tough young man. He’s played an incredible role for us, he’s been totally unselfish and he’s been a big reason that we’ve been able to have some success, especially in the two-back running game,” Holtz said.
Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said Jeff Hawkins and Kevin Gidrey would be USF’s main options at fullback if Kelly is unable to play against UConn.
Connecticut a great memory for Holtz
An interesting subplot to USF’s matchup with UConn will be coach Skip Holtz facing his former team. Holtz, a native of Connecticut, led the Huskies to a 34-23 record as their head coach in five seasons (1994-98) before becoming offensive coordinator at South Carolina.
“There’s some sentimental value in it. There’s no doubt,” Holtz said of facing Connecticut. “I’ve followed that program. To go back there as a head coach and have the success we did. It was hard to leave there. I am a fan of the program.
“It’s been rewarding for me to sit back and see the progress of that program knowing that you had a little piece of history there.”