This week we've got a special Q&A segment with Ken DeCelles of South Florida's SB Nation site, Voodoo Five. This segment will allow us the opportunity to learn a little bit about our opponent heading into this week's game. You can also see Miner Rush's answers here at Voodoo Five.
1. How is the team performing thus far this season?
I don't think the season could have gone any better for the Bulls this year. USF opened up the season with a big, big win against Notre Dame up in South Bend. Defensively the Bulls let Notre Dame run wild in between the 20s, but really tightened down once the Irish got inside the red zone. The Bulls forced 3 red zone turnovers, including a 96-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown by Kayvon Webster. Offensively, the Bulls did enough, getting a big Evan Landi touchdown late in the 3rd quarter after Notre Dame finally got in the end zone.
After that, we've had two pretty easy games against Ball State and Florida A&M. USF won both comfortably, and the 70-17 thrashing against the Rattlers were the 2nd most points scored in USF history. The team seems to be running on all cylinders right now.
On offense, the Bulls will run a spread offense with a 3 WR/1 TE/1 RB base formation. The Bulls will keep things pretty balanced, with USF running read options and modified triple options with the slot receiver as the pitch man. Passing the ball, QB B.J. Daniels will spread the ball around to everyone on the field with a lot of short and intermediate routes, waiting for a receiver to get open.
On defense, USF runs your base 4-3 defense. This is a ballhawking defense, trying to pressure teams into mistakes and force turnovers. The front seven do a great job stopping the run, allowing the back four to focus on the wideouts, which is good considering the type of offense UTEP runs.
3. Who should UTEP fans worry about on offense and defense?
On offense, everything goes through B.J. Daniels. The junior quarterback has played his best football of his USF career this season, throwing for almost 290 yards a game with 6 touchdowns this year. This is the first time in his USF career that he has the same offensive staff for two straight years, and it has really shown so far. B.J. is a big threat with both his arm and his feet, although he hasn't had to run that often this year. His favorite target is Sterling Griffin, who already has 20 catches this year.
RB Darrell Scott is finally showing the promise he had as a 5-Star all-everything recruit. The junior had a career day last week against FAMU, rushing for 146 yards and 3 touchdowns while also scoring on an 84-yard screen play. He has excellent speed for a man his size, and is a load to take down once he gets his 245 lb frame going.
Defensively, I'll go with the linebacker trio of Sam Barrington, Mike Lanaris, and DeDe Lattimore. The three of them have formed what might be one of the best linebacker groups in the country. Lattimore has been extremely impressive at WLB, with 17 tackles, 2.5 TFL, a sack, a forced fumble, and an interception already this season.
Right now USF is stuck between a rock and a hard place. There isn't a logical place for the Bulls to go with FSU and Miami blocking access to the ACC and the SEC being a nonstarter. I honestly think that the Big East is a dead conference walking on the football side, so the best option would be somehow being a part of a Big East/Big XII merger. If not, we might be hanging out with you guys in C-USA.
5. Predictions for the game Saturday?
I really don't know how USF stops their strong run. I think the Bulls start strong and coast to a 38-14 win.
Thanks a lot to Ken DeCelles, and everyone at Voodoo Five for taking part in this Q&A segment.