South Florida Bulls Statistical Profile

How USF has spent most of 2013 so far, on their back - Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For most of this season we here at DTD have ignored the statistical realm. Mostly because the sample sizes are too small. That changes today with a deep dive into the statistical make up of the Bearcats opponent this weekend, the South Florida Bulls. The Bulls are off to an 0-4 start, and have generally looked like an 0-4 team. The question is how could a team with so much talent on paper look so bad?

Offense

Number Conference Rank National Rank
Rushing Yards Per Game 122 8 100
Yards Per Carry 3.78 8 95
Passing Yards Per Game 148.5 10 116
Yards Per Attempt 5.0 10 119
Passer Rating 84.84 10 123
Yards Per Play 4.38 9 120

The Bulls are not a good offensive team. That has generally been the case of late, in the post B.J. Daniels era. But the shift in offensive tone from the spread power attack of old to the even more retrograde (I mean that as a compliment) inherent in picking a branch off the Harbaugh tree. South Florida is actually trying to do what most UC fans think Eddie Gran is trying to do, taking spread personnel and running a power based attack. It is, predictably, not going so well.

The Bulls can't really run. Actually, Marcus Shaw can run, alot. But thats it on the ground. There are just three Bulls with positive yardage on the ground. To put it another way Shaw has rushed for 525 yards. The rest of the team has rushed for -37 yards on 52 non Shaw attempts, an average of -.7 yards per attempt. Even backing out the 77 sack yards the Bulls have given up puts the Bulls at 40 yards on 40 attempts.

That would be bad in the best of circumstances, but with an offense that is built on the theory that the passing game is built on the ground game its catastrophic. The telling thing is that even with Shaw being exemplary and forcing defenses to move a safety into the box the Bulls simply aren't winning on the perimeter. Thats because the passing game is one dimensional just like the running game, albeit to a lesser degree.

Andre Davis has caught 14 balls for 191 yards for USF. No one else has caught more than 5, and no one else has triple digit receiving yards. Essentially defenses can put one safety in the box, and roll the other to Davis and dare anyone else to beat them safe in the knowledge that they probably can't.

Defense

Number Conference Rank National Rank
Rushing Yards Per Game 161.5 8 70
Yards Per Carry 4.17 9 72
Passing Yards Per Game 202.8 5 41
Yards Per Attempt 8.3 9 103
Passer Rating 136.36 8 81
Yards Per Play 5.76 8 80

The Bulls offense is dogged by a lack of playmakers. Even if they got competent QB play from someone, and they haven't, the offense would still be muddled by a lack of play makers on the perimeter in particular. The problem for the South Florida defense is different. On paper they have a lot of talent, Aaron Lynch, Ryne Giddins, Julius Forte, DeDe Lattimore, Todd Chandler, Elkino Watson and on and on. But the defense has been torched by competent offenses in McNeese State and Miami while living up to the hype against Michigan State and FAU (currently ranked in triple digits in most offensive categories).

The biggest issue for the Bulls is without a question first down. They are not just losing on first downs, they are getting destroyed. In 113 first down snaps to date they have given up 758 yards, thats an average of 6.7 yards per play. So just imagine for a moment the sense of dread accompanying every second and four opposing offenses get against the Bearcats. Now imagine how you would feel facing 20 of those a game. That's how most Bulls fans have been feeling this year.

Losing big on first down shifts the odds drastically in favor of the offense. The offense can do almost anything on second down. Its a great time to work the quick game, or take a deep shot, or run a little trickeration. Baring catastrophe the offense can do almost anything and still wind up with a manageable third down attempt.

Disruptiveness

Opponents South Florida
Tackles For Loss 27 20
Sacks 12 2
Hurries 11 5
Pressure Percent* 19% 7%
Interceptions 4 5
Defended 13 8
Defense/Incompletion Ratio* 24% 32%

*I am trying to come up with a way to measure to what degree a given offense is effected by the play of a defense. Pressure Percent adds sacks and hurries and divide that total into passing attempts. It is obviously an imprecise measure as a certain percentage of designed passes become QB runs past the line of scrimmage and are recorded as rushes. It would be easier to calculate if I knew how often a given team dropped back to pass, but that info is not there. Defense/Incompletion Ratio is easier; add interceptions and passes defensed and divide into total incompletion's. I have no idea what any of this means. For what its worth UC gets pressure on opposing passers on 23% of attempts and allows pressure on 6%. In terms of D/I 39% of Bearcats incompletion can be attributed to the defense, while 44% of UC opponents incompletion can be credited to UC defenders. Again, no idea what any of this means.

I read two things from this. 1) the Bulls offense is bad in a very general all purpose sort of way. They can't keep their quarterback clean, and when they do some large percentage of their passes wind up in the general area of a defender. I have a sneaking suspicion that higher completion rate a team has the higher their D/I will be. I will have to do more research on that.

2) the Bulls struggles to defend first downs prevents them from bringing their defensive line to bear. If opposing offenses generally stay out of obvious passing downs their will be fewer opportunities to rush the passer with abandon. Even when USF has gotten offenses in adventurous positions they haven't been able to generate pressure with any consistency.

Life On The Margins

Opponents South Florida
Interceptions 5 4
Fumbles 8 6
Fumbles Lost
4 6
Recovery Percent
50% 0%
Turnover Margin +3 -3
Third Down Conversion % 37.5 18.5
Non Offensive TD's 6 1
Red Zone TD % 61.1% 60%

Its clear by now that South Florida is a flawed team to begin with, but they have also had quite a bit of bad luck as well. Lets start with them being unable to recover any of their fumbles. In a game as chaotic as football is fumbles are about as close to perfectly random as possible. From causation to recovery nothing about fumbles is predictable. Which is why a single team losing all of their fumbles is such a quirk, it is also not sustainable. They could start recovering everything against the Bearcats. This section can end with the five TD advantage in non offensive TD's. USF has been bad, but they have had some pretty shit luck as well.

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