As UTEP deals with injuries, USF coach Skip Holtz said the preparations for this week’s game have been trickier than for any other opponent so far because of the constant rotation of new players.
“They are probably selling a lot of programs so far this year because, when you put it on the film, there is a different number,” Holtz said. “I think they are playing four or five running backs. They’ve had three quarterbacks start in three different football games, just playing musical chairs on the offensive line (and) always different numbers in there.”
If No. 18 USF (3-0) wants to avoid an upset, it must be ready for anything the Miners (2-1, 0-1 C-USA) throw at them, including the uncertainty surrounding who will start at quarterback.
Junior Nick Lamaison started the season opener against Stony Brook, but sophomore Carson Meger started the second game against Southern Methodist, only to be replaced by redshirt freshman Jay Hall in UTEP’s 16-10 win over New Mexico State last week. Regardless of who plays at quarterback, Holtz said the Miners’ offensive scheme is one the Bulls haven’t faced this season.
“You’ve got to not only stop their spread offense, where they’re used to scoring a lot of points, but you also have to stop their power and gap scheme, which is really different than anything that we have seen until this point,” he said. “Offensively, they definitely give you some challenges with what they do, and, defensively, (defensive coordinator Mark) Snyder and our defensive staff have got some things worked out for them.”
Snyder said USF’s defense is prepared for UTEP’s big offensive line, but won’t know exactly what offensive scheme it will face until the game starts.
“They are very big on the offensive line,” he said. “Again, here we go into week (four) and I still don’t know what I am going to get. Their freshman quarterback, with their other quarterback being hurt, is he going to play, isn’t he going to play? How is (UTEP coach Mike) Price going to alter his game plan? Is he going to try to run the ball more, get more screens, more controlled passing? I won’t know until I get into the game.”
On the other side of the ball, USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said what the offense has seen on film looks similar to the defense they faced two weeks ago against Ball State, except a lot quicker.
“Structurally, we talked about them being very similar to Ball State, just structurally,” he said. “The differences in the two defenses, I think, is that they have a lot more speed overall. They recruit Texas hard. There’s great football in Texas.”
Kickoff against the Miners is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Raymond James Stadium.