USF football is preparing to go up against arguably its toughest opponent of the season on Saturday — No. 10 Alabama.
Despite the spectacle and hype surrounding the game, offensive coordinator Joel Gordon said the Bulls’ focus remains on their process and the things they can control.
“What these coaches have been preaching since day one is, ‘My process has got to be right.’ Every single day, no matter who we’re playing, that’s the truth,” Gordon said.
“So hopefully, our processes are right, and they’re not too much different than what they have been for the first couple of weeks, and we can continue to just go about our business.”
Here is a look at what Gordon and defensive coordinator Todd Orlando are doing to prepare their players.
In last week’s game against Florida A&M, USF managed five takeaways which only resulted in 10 points. Gordon said capitalizing on their extra possessions is an area that needs growth for the offense.
“We’re trying to score as much as we can and haven’t gotten to that point yet this season. We’ve left a lot of points on the field in two weeks,” Gordon said.
“We know we’re going to have to go play football and score, and we’re going to trust our defense, without a doubt, to get some stops and get us the ball, but we also know that when we have possessions, we must make them count.”
Capitalizing on their extra possessions starts with protecting the quarterback. The Bulls have given up 11 sacks in their first two games.
Gordon says the coaches emphasize pass protection in every practice, but against Alabama it will require the entire offense to remember their cues.
“They’re gonna have to be definitely dialed into what’s going on on the other side of the ball, and we got to play with great technique and be physical and be smart and communicate,” Gordon said.
“We’re asking those guys to do their jobs the best they can, and our quarterback has gotta get their feet in the ground and get the ball out. We have to execute.”
During film sessions, defensive coordinator Todd Orlando highlighted the size advantage the Crimson Tide’s offensive line has.
To overcome the physical challenges presented in front of them, The Bulls will have to win the mental battle. Orlando said he has emphasized to his players to maintain their composure and not be intimidated by the moment.
Part of this stemmed from Saturday when the Bulls had 14 penalties, many of which Orlando said were “out of character.”
“We do have to keep our composure and it has been addressed as early as Sunday. So, I think that’s a big point that we don’t lose our minds out there and do the things that we’re doing in practice,” he said.
Another factor that will play into the game is the environment of the stadium. Attendance for Saturday’s game is expected to eclipse 65,000. It could pose a problem for the Bulls in how they communicate during the game.
However, Orlando said they turned up the music during practice to simulate communicating in the intense environment they’ll enter on Saturday.
“This is gonna be a really cool environment, and you have to be ready, especially on the defensive side of the ball,” he said.
“It’ll get loud. We got to do a good job of communicating, but that’s why you play the game. This is why you play college football —-to be in this type of environment.”