Bearcats at Bulls; Keys To The Game

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

The Bearcats will take the field for the first time in two weeks in Tampa against a South Florida team that has been on the struggle bus for most of this season. What are the keys to the game for the Bearcats? Go on and read them.

Win On First Downs

The biggest problem that South Florida has had this year on defense is getting themselves into second and long situations. This was covered a bit more in depth on Monday, but the implications for the Bearcats offense went unstated.

If the Bearcats can have some first down success and get ahead of the proverbial chains the entire play book is open. The biggest gripe for most of the anti-Gran crowd is that the Bearcats are far too run orientated in general, and on first downs in particular. I don't buy that complaint in general, but the first down balance is nonexistent. In 136 first down snaps UC has run 94 times, that’s close to 70 percent.

The South Florida game is a perfect opportunity the change that. They aren't a terribly good defense, and they struggled big time against Miami a week ago against the pass. USF will give up some easy throws underneath; Brendon Kay has to take them.

Limit Marcus Shaw

The Bulls are really a two man show on offense. Marcus Shaw is the runner, Andre Davis is the main pass catching threat. With Steven Bench making his second start the attention from the Bearcats defense is going to be on Shaw who has averaged 130 yards per on almost 7 yards per carry.

If the Bearcats can keep Shaw under 100 yards, ideally under 80, they will have the ability to dictate the game to the Bulls offense. That is something that the Bearcats are capable of doing, but not something they have shown with any consistency outside of the Miami and Northwestern State games.

A Non Offensive TD Would Be Nice

The Bulls have allowed 6 of them this year. Six would be a fairly big number for a season, after 4 games it’s ridiculous. The Bearcats have not tallied a non offensive TD since the Purdue game when Adrian Witty went pick sixing for the first time in his career.

The Bearcats can win against South Florida without picking up a non offensive TD. But getting one early would go a long way to calm nerves for what promises to be an emotional day for the Bearcats. Not to mention that it would take a great deal of pressure of an offense coming off its worst performance since Rutgers a year ago.

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