This weekend, USF heads into Storrs, CT looking for its first conference win of 2019 and first win against an FBS opponent since beating UConn last season.
The Huskies come in with a 10 game losing streak against FBS foes. The irresistible force meets the immovable object. It’s like Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III. Except instead of a large tan dude from Tampa, we have a struggling football team from Tampa. And instead of a colossal human who works out of Connecticut (Stamford), we have a bad football team from Connecticut. And much like Wrestlemania III, you may have to watch this game on closed-circuit television.
So, what do the Bulls need to do to “drop the leg” on the Huskies and pick up the win? Let’s take a closer look at the numbers and the schemes of UConn.
General Game Management
Marino Rule Plus
Both teams have struggled this season, and it’s easy to see why when looking at the Marino Rule numbers.
USF is slightly better on third down defensively, while UConn has the slight edge on offense. Both sets of numbers rank low nationally. Offensively, UConn is 112th, while USF is 124th. Defensively, UConn ranks 114th, while USF comes in 110th.
The Bulls have a big lead in turnover margin, thanks in no small part to a +8 margin against SC State. Even without that huge game, USF would still have a better margin than the Huskies. USF ranks 8th and UConn sits tied for 107th nationally.
USF also has a five yard edge in average starting field position. A five yard margin in field position typically translates into a win nearly 60% of the time with a margin of victory around a touchdown.
Yards Per Play
Last week we talked about the importance of yards per play. It’s a great measure of efficiency for both offense and defense.
USF and UConn are both struggling with efficiency numbers this season. USF ranks 114th on offense and 52nd on defense. UConn is ranked 119th on offense and 110th on defense. The two teams have faced similar competition, both with three FBS opponents and one FCS opponent.
UConn has faced slightly better offenses and USF has faced slightly better defenses, but the numbers are pretty similar. Against a similar level of competition, USF has better yards per play numbers on both sides of the ball. We’ll see if that holds up this weekend.
UConn Offense-Run First
The UConn offense is centered around their run game. They have two good backs (#34 Kevin Mensah and #1 Art Thompkins) and their offensive line came into the season tied for 11th in the country in returning starts. While it’s has only been successful in spurts, the Huskies use the run to set up the rest of their offense. We’ll take a closer look at the UConn offense in the video below.
You can see the Huskies like to run the ball, and that they use the running game to set up both play-action and RPO concepts. USF has struggled against the run this season, giving up 188.75 yards a game. This figure ranks 103rd in the country. If the Bulls can win the ground battle, it will go a long way towards winning the game.
UConn Defense- Bending and Breaking
The UConn defense has struggled this season. UConn ranks 104th in the country against the run and 97th against the pass in yards per attempt. They appear to run out of a 4-3/4-2 base with two high safeties. They have also shown some one high safety looks this season. Let’s take a deeper look at the UConn defense.
There are plays to be made against the UConn defense. If the USF offensive line is able to take as step forward this week, the offense should play well.
One of the easiest things to do in life is point out when something isn’t working. Finding solutions to problems is the difficult part. Both teams are currently looking for those solutions. Let’s hope that Coach Strong and staff are able to find some solutions that will start this week and carry over throughout the season.
USF has the edge in almost every statistical category. This should be a very winnable game for the Bulls. I think the USF coaching staff is equipped to find those solutions and put their team in position to win the game.