Football practice report: Bulls brace for aerial foe
TAMPA -- Shortly after the Bulls honor their 17 seniors during a pregame ceremony Saturday night, SMU will launch a three-plus-hour tribute to the forward pass.
"It's going to be seven-on-seven basically the whole game," Bulls defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said.
Under coach June Jones, the Mustangs (4-5, 3-2) rank fifth nationally in pass offense (380.1 yards per game). His passing-game coordinator: Hal Mumme, who brought a similar offense to the University of Kentucky in the late 1990s, leading UK to two bowl games.
Senior QB Garrett Gilbert, who averages 54 attempts a game, leads the nation in total offense (405.7 yards per game), setting up the long pass with the short one.
Bresnahan said the key will be thwarting the Mustangs when they take their selective shots downfield, and limiting big yardage after the catch. USF struggled to tackle effectively in its last game against a pass-heavy offense, a 35-23 loss at Houston on Halloween night.
"This team makes a lot of plays after the catch and they have a lot of great athletes that can make things happen," senior DB JaQuez Jenkins said. "So it's going to be vital for us
to get them on the ground."
BIVINS LEAVING: Sophomore CB Chris Bivins, whose once-promising career was de-railed by a pair of ACL injuries, has left the program.
The school confirmed Bivins, runner-up for the state's Class 6A Player of the Year honor as a Gainesville High senior in 2011, actually departed a few months back. He suffered his second ACL tear last November and appeared headed for a redshirt this season.
AUDIBLE: "I'm excited about it, I'm scared for it, I'm nervous about it, but it has to happen." -- senior DE JuJu Forte on running through the southwest tunnel of Raymond James Stadium a final time Saturday
ODDS AND ENDS: Saturday's game is the first meeting ever between the Bulls and Mustangs. ... Cincinnati coach Tommy Tuberville, whose team surrendered 403 passing yards in a 28-25 win against SMU on Nov. 9, said there's really no shutting down the Mustangs offense: "You've just got to be able to slow them down and be able to keep them off the field as much as you can," he said. ... Barring a major injury, junior Andre Davis now appears a lock to finish his career as USF's all-time leading receiver. His 104 career catches are 27 shy of Hugh Smith's school record.