History - It's not a long history, but it has been one with its fair share of interesting side notes. We all remember the 2010 overtime loss that sealed Randy Shannon's fate. The six game series began in 2005 and will conclude this season, with Miami taking four of the five meetings. Miami has gotten the better of USF the past two years with an awful, awful 6-3 victory in 2011; and a bit more dominant 40-9 victory last season. Miami has outscored USF 124-52 in the series, with USF only scoring more than 10 points once. For a bit it looked like USF was primed to be a national power and take Miami's place in the big three of Florida schools. Some bad breaks and coaching turnover hindered the Bulls' progress while Miami got back to the business of being Miami. Miami needs to keep it this way. The Tampa area has been good to Miami, so maintaining dominance over their local college is a must.
USF - Yes, the Bulls are 0-3 (with losses to McNeese St. and FAU) this year; but there are some stats Miami should pay attention to, buried in that shame. The Bulls have a top 10 pass defense allowing 145.3 yards per game; and a top 25 total defense allowing only 305.7 yards per game. So how does a team with a decent enough defense find themselves 0-3? Turnovers... eight of them that led to 49 points. Couple that with a passing game that ranks 116th nationally averaging 135 yards a game, and you begin to understand how USF got in its current predicament. Their running game isn't exactly top notch, but they do have a running back Miami needs to focus on. Marcus Shaw has been one of the few productive players on USF - averaging 7 yards a carry. With 398 yards rushing, Shaw has about 50 more than the top two USF QBs have passing combined. Their leading receiver has 9 catches for 116 yards; for comparison's sake Allen Hurns has 11 catches for 194 yards. Where the issue for USF lies is: Miami has a few other receivers with comparable numbers, while the next leading receivers for USF have 3 catches for 47 and 48 yards (and they happen to be the RB and FB). With the issues passing on offense, it seems the Bulls will rely on good defense and trying to run the ball - sound familiar?
Miami - Miami has it's own issues on offense to deal with this week, but it's due to injuries. Stephen Morris seems to be making strides in his recovery from a bone bruise, while Shane McDermott was supposed to start getting integrated back into practice Wednesday. I'd expect Morris to has a better chance to start than McDermott. Jared Wheeler did well at center (all be it against Savannah State), and there's a sense that Miami doesn't want Morris going into ACC play cold next week. Either way, Miami should be okay against a down USF team. It will be interesting to see how Miami fares against a USF defensive line that Al Golden spoke highly of. Talented and deep Miami will get a chance to work out any kinks the offense may have; and this time against a more capable team. I personally want to see where the running game is. It's been hard to judge, due to the varying levels of the defenses Miami has faced...USF may shed a bit more light on where it stands.
Players To Watch - For USF, it's B.J. Daniels... wait, oh, nevermind. For USF it's running back Marcus Shaw. Averaging 7 yards a carry - he's really the main threat on the offense. Shaw hasn't just put up numbers versus lower level schools - he still managed 94 on the ground versus Michigan State. His 398 yards rushing places him at 20th in the nation(26 more yards would place him 12th) On the defensive side of the ball, LB DeDe Lattimore leads the team in total tackles with 31, and has 1 of the team's 2 interceptions this year. He put up a career best 15 tackles, 10 solo against Michigan State.
Players To Watch - For Miami, it's following the emergence of Clive Walford and the TE position as a whole. Walford has 7 catches for 108 yards, most of those catches resulting in first downs. He's shown great promise before, but it seems he (as well as the offense) have found a rhythm, so it will interesting to see if Miami continues to utilize the TE position. On defense, Deon Bush is coming into the game after seeing his first action of the season against Savannah State. The safety is getting back up to speed after his recovery from surgery held him out of Miami's first few games. The position has done well without him, but I think we can all agree that the team is better with him on the field. It's a last test run for him to shake the rust off before ACC play starts next week.
Below is Miami's ACC Injury Report heading into Saturday's game at USF.
Shane McDermott - Lower Extremity
Rashawn Scott - Upper Extremity
Danny Isidora - Lower Extremity
Surgery/Out for the season:
Hunter Knighton - Upper Extremity
Should We Worry? Nope. Even if Morris were to sit this week, I think this is a very winnable game. They pose more of a challenge than SSU (which is a good thing); but still have too many issues to be any danger for Miami. The goals I set for Miami last week against SSU still apply this week, because I knew the Tigers were bad - just didn't fully understand they were that bad. If Miami can create a consistent running game with Duke and company, while looking sharp passing- I think they will be pleased. Hopefully Miami got it's fill of in game injuries last week.
Prediction: UM 35 USF 10
ESPNU • Tom Hart, Play-by-Play • John Congemi, Analyst
WQAM 560 AM • Joe Zagacki, PXP • Don Bailey Jr., Analyst • Josh Darrow, Sideline Reporter
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