USF's Cosh saw prolific offenses in Big 12
USF's defense is preparing for a Florida State offense putting up gaudy numbers in its 4-0 start -- averaging 56 points and 574 yards per game -- but that's nothing new for Bulls defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who held the same role at Kansas State last year.
"You kind of saw those numbers every week," Cosh said of his Big 12 days. "When you have (Ryan) Tannehill, (Robert) Griffin, those quarterbacks in your league that you see all the time, (Brandon) Weeden and those guys, they're going to put up those numbers ... very similar to Florida State, and they've got the running backs behind them also. You look at the numbers, and they're a little more skewed to the running game. They've got two running backs averaging almost 10 yards a carry, so they've got the big-play threat with those guys you usually see just in your passing game. They've got it in both areas."
Cosh faced six of the nation's top 13 teams in total offense last year, and Kansas State managed to beat four of them -- edging Baylor and Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, 36-35, beating Texas Tech 41-34, Texas A&M and Tannehill 53-50 in four overtimes and Missouri, 24-17. (Oklahoma State and Oklahoma scored a combined 110 points in beating the Wildcats in the other two games).
In those four wins, Kansas State held those four offenses to a combined 33 points in regulation under their average score, and it'll take that kind of defensive performance for USF to contend with the high-scoring Seminoles. Cosh said the Bulls will have a tough test in containing FSU's 1-2 punch of running backs Chris Thompson and James Wilder Jr., who have a combined 11 touchdowns and 642 rushing yards.
"Thompson obviously has the speed, and he's also a pretty good receiver out of the backfield, if you look at his receiving numbers," Cosh said. "He has the sweep-style runs he can run, but he can also hit it up inside, and the other guy can run behind his pads pretty well. You're going to have to be in a good football position, have your pads out and tackle him, knock him back. That poses a problem, because one guy's going to slip you and outrun you, the other's going to try to run and put a hole in you. As a defense, you have to know who's in there and what kind of runs you might be getting."
USF has struggled to force turnovers this season, as one of only three schools in I-A football without an interception, and that won't come easy against FSU quarterback EJ Manuel. Manuel has just one interception in 94 pass attempts this season and didn't throw any in his final five games last year, giving him one pick in his last 215 pass attempts.