BYU has played a whole hodge-podge of teams since Independence started in 2011. This week, BYU will face a team that they have never before faced: the USF Bulls. To learn more about the Bulls in south Florida, we spoke with our friends over at The Daily Stampede to find out more.
Vanquish the Foe: USF and BYU meet for the very first time on Saturday. What are USF’s expectations for a team they’ve never met before?
The Daily Stampede: If Bronco was still there? A bare-knuckle brawl. (I’m only half kidding). I’m not sure what to make of the current iteration of BYU. From afar, it’s seems like the Cougars are still searching for their identity under Kalani Sitake. It’s always fun to cross off another team on the list. BYU has the kind of history on the football field that makes college football fans want to see the team live.
VTF: Each team comes into this match-up with a 2-3 record. What has been the high-point for USF’s season so far? What about the lowest point?
TDS: I don’t think there’s been a high point. They beat the two teams they were supposed to beat and didn’t show much fight in the three games they lost. The low point? The three losses showed how far USF has fallen in just three years.
VTF: How would you describe the Bulls’ offense? What are the strengths and weaknesses on that side of the ball?
TDS: Spread offense with pro style passing concepts. The offensive coaches have termed the scheme “#PlayFastScoreFaster” we’ve seen bits and pieces of it, but haven’t seen the final form. I trust the offense to get it together, but I’m not confident this staff will be around long enough to do so. There are some good playmakers on offense from running back Jordan Cronkrite, tight end Mitchell Wilcox, and slot receiver Bryce Miller. The biggest weakness is the offensive line. Before last week’s 313 yards of rushing against UConn, the offense was averaging around 98 yards per game on the ground. They had a great game as a unit, but it was UConn, so who knows if the progress is legit.
VTF: Jordan McCloud looks to be a true dual-threat QB. What part of his game is the strongest, and therefore what BYU should focus on stopping?
TDS: Load the box and force him to make accurate throws down the field. He’s shown he can do that on occasion, but (there’s that word again) he has had a tendency to leave throws short, which tend to get intercepted. McCloud had some Quinton Flowers-type runs against UConn, making something out of absolutely nothing and right now with this offensive line, that’s the best asset he’s had.
VTF: Patrick Macon leads USF in tackles this year with 35, and he’s also the co-leader on the team with 2 sacks. Is he the biggest threat on defense? What other player should BYU be wary of on the Bulls’ defense?
TDS: UNC transfer cornerback K.J. Sails is as close to a lock-down corner you’ll find. He’s NFL ready. Defensive ends Greg Reaves and Kirk Livingstone have had good seasons as well. USF forces a lot of tackles-for-loss, so winning on first and second down will be vital for the Cougars.
VTF: As a USF fan, what player on BYU’s offense or defense are you most worried about having a big game, and why?
TDS: I cannot understate how mad we are that we won’t get to see the Mormon Manziel Zach Wilson on Saturday. It’s going to be interesting to see Jaren Hall have his first career start on the road. There’s not much tape on him so there might be a bit of a feeling out process the first few drives for the USF defense. BYU has three receivers with at least 18 catches and they’re all averaging 14.1 yards per catch. While Sails is a great talent at corner, no one else has stepped up opposite him to lock down the other side and in the slot. That is the match up to watch.
TDS: I’m not positive this team is tough enough to get punched in the face versus BYU and respond well enough. If the Cougars go up 14-0 early, it’s a wrap. I say Cougars win 31-20.
VTF: Final Question. Do you know that Gasparilla was probably not a real person?
TDS: Personally I think Jose Gaspar and the entire Gasparilla event is a sham. But, I do not speak for everyone at The Daily Stampede Dot com. People get really, really into it down here. Couple of years ago Tampa hosted the NHL All-Star game during Gasparilla weekend, and debauchery ensued.