Facing an opponent that has allowed 21 points or more in three of its last four games, the USF football teams offense has an opportunity to produce against the Louisville Cardinals.
Though the Bulls have struggled to score points in losses to Rutgers and Florida State, USF will need its offense when it faces a team that is 39th in the nation in scoring offense when it travels to Kentucky to play the No. 16 Cardinals who are undefeated through six games Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
We went in there two years ago and ended up winning in overtime, coach Skip Holtz said. Thats the kind of jump start were looking for as we head into the second half of the season.
One advantage the offense will have is the returned mobility of senior quarterback B.J. Daniels, who was limited to six rushing yards in the teams loss to Temple, in large part because of an ankle injury that he said is no longer bothering him.
Daniels also said that though his mobility adds another level to his game, he can still perform from the pocket.
Its just an extra factor, an extra dimension, he said. Obviously, physically, I was a little limited, but against Temple I was able to sit in the pocket, move around a little bit and deliver the ball around, so I was okay with that too.
Sophomore center Austin Reiter said the physicality and size of Louisvilles defensive line reminds him of previous opponents USF has faced this season.
Theyre really big, physical guys, he said. They do a lot of three down defense. They have a lot of physical players and a lot of them are a similar size to the guys from Florida State and Temple.
Though the Bulls lost to both the Seminoles and Owls, they were able to establish the run early against both teams, racking up a combined 138 rushing yards in the first quarters of both games, which could build confidence when facing a similar defense.
Reiter said the Bulls have been looking to improve on their play action passing game in preparation for the aggressive Cardinal defense that has admittedly struggled of late giving up 34, 21 and 35 points to North Carolina, Florida International and Pittsburgh, respectively.
Weve been working a lot on the play-action passes, Reiter said. Were trying not to get cross-faced on run plays so we can have longer runs, which will set up the play-action passes.
Despite their recent struggles, the Cardinals have managed to limit opponents to 114 rushing yards per game, good for fourth in the Big East. Holtz said aggression and confusion are a vital part of Louisvilles defense.
Theyre very aggressive. They load the box to stop the run, he said. They have only allowed around 100 rushing yards per game, and they play a lot of man-to-man. They like to send a lot of blitzes and create
If the Bulls hope to bounce back from a 2-4 start, the best way to start would be with a win over a ranked opponent. With the recent history of the teams, fans can expect a hard fought game that will be decided in the fourth quarter.
Its a conference game, (so) it doesnt matter who it is, but obviously Louisville is having a good season so far, and we respect them a lot, offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. Two years ago we beat them in overtime. Last year they beat us basically on the last drive. So weve had two close games in the two years weve been here.