Gameday: Will Bulls run or throw at UConn?
Greetings from Connecticut -- and hello certainly sounds better than another bye, right? After a long week off, USF has a chance to bounce back from a humbling 44-17 loss at Pittsburgh 16 days ago. The biggest question I'm curious to find an answer for is this: How is the Bulls' offense going to attack Connecticut's defense today at Rentschler Field?
As we've mentioned this week, Connecticut's pass defense has struggled in the last two games without top corner Blidi Wreh-Wilson -- Western Michigan and West Virginia each threw for more than 450 yards in beating the Huskies. On the other hand, UConn's rush defense has been statistically one of the nation's best, allowing just 72 yards per game and barely 2.5 yards per carry this season.
So do the Bulls try to open up the passing offense, seeing the yards UConn has given up in the last two games? Are do they try to beat the Huskies at their own game, controlling the game with running backs Darrell Scott and Demetris Murray?
If successfully running the ball and stopping the opponent from doing the same isn't the biggest key in this game, then it's third down, which was where the Pittsburgh game went badly wrong in the second half for USF. Which B.J. Daniels will show up today: the one who had the Bulls go 6-for-9 in the first half against Pitt, or the one who went 0-for-6 in the second half? And more importantly, can the Bulls defense get off the field the way they couldn't 16 days ago?
So if you can script the first 20 offensive plays for USF -- and a lot can change in 20 plays, good or bad -- do you try to beat UConn through the air, or on the ground? Obviously it will be some combination of both. Add up the WMU and WVU games, and those two offenses had two passes for every run, averaging 9.5 yards per pass attempt and just 1.6 yards per carry. UConn gave up literally 10 times as many yards in the air -- 948 passing yards and 83 rushing yards in those two games. So do you do what the Huskies expect you to do?