Line leads the way for Orange offense

As USF tries to break a four-game losing streak Friday against Syracuse, the Bulls’ defense will be put to the test by a deep and experienced Orange offense.

“When you start looking at them from an offensive standpoint, their offensive line has about 80 starts (combined),” USF coach Skip Holtz said. “They return four starters. They’re a very big, very physical, very aggressive bunch up front. They are playing very well together.”

USF defensive coordinator Mark Snyder also noted that the Syracuse offensive line stands out on tape as the unit’s biggest strength. Snyder knows the Syracuse staff well, having played alongside offensive line coach Greg Adkins while at Marshall.

“You know, (Syracuse) coach (Doug) Marrone, in my opinion, was one of the best offensive line coaches before he got the head job at Syracuse, so it starts up there,” Snyder said. “They are very well-coached up front. Their offensive line coach, Greg Adkins, played with me at Marshall. He’s been at Tennessee; he’s been a lot of places. He’s a great offensive line coach. So when you watch them up front, they are very, very well-coached.”

Last week, USF’s rush defense excelled, holding Rutgers to minus-7 yards on the ground. If they can do that again, it should pave the way for a successful day for the Bulls. They will have to stop Orange running back Antwon Bailey, though, who leads Syracuse with 798 yards on 177 carries this season.

USF’s defense also faces tough tasks in the passing game. The Orange has a few weapons that could give the Bulls’ secondary some trouble in the Carrier Dome, namely tight end Nick Provo and junior wide receiver Alec Lemon.

Lemon leads the team with 47 receptions for 531 yards this season, while Provo, who set the school record for receptions in a season by a tight end last week with his 39th, has caught a pass in 22 straight games.