They say all good things must come to an end. The same must be true for bad things. Which in this case is a good thing, because it means we have finally reached the conclusion of the 2020 USF football season. The Bulls have struggled all year in their battle against not only their opponents on the field, but also a pandemic and a malaise that has infected more parts of the program than previously thought.
Jeff Scott has had maybe one of the most difficult first seasons at a new school in recent memory. Unfortunately for him, the task doesn’t get any easier as a talented UCF team makes their way to Tampa. DraftKings has UCF as 24.5-point favorite. A USF win would be an upset for the ages. Do the Bulls have any chance to pull it off? Let’s take a look at the numbers.
The numbers would seem to say that USF has no chance in this game. UCF has better numbers in every single category outside of explosiveness rate allowed on defense. The Knights are 112th nationally in defensive explosiveness rate. Lucky for them, they will be playing the 95th most explosive offense in the country.
The UCF offense is obviously the strength of their team. They are top 20 nationally in yards per play, percentage of available yards gained, and third down conversion rate. They are a little lower than expected in explosiveness rate, but that’s likely due to the high amount of plays they run. In fact they are first nationally in 20+ yard plays with 71 through eight games.
The numbers don’t paint a pretty picture for the Bulls, but how does the film look? (Hint: Not much better)
The UCF offense is one of the best in the country. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel is one of the most accurate passers in the country and he spreads the ball around to a ton of talented skill position players. Otis Anderson (2), Marlon Williams (6), Jacob Harris (87) and Jaylon Robinson (1) are all walking one play scoring drives. Let’s see how UCF uses all these explosive players.
UCF has an accurate quarterback surrounded by talented skill players. They combine those elements with tempo and creative play design to create an offensive juggernaut. They are heard enough to stop when fully healthy, but USF will likely be undermanned. The Bulls have played the last two games with minimal depth at corner. If that depth doesn’t improve in a hurry, USF is in for a long night.
The UCF Defense is a high variance unit. They are going to get their offense the ball back quickly one way or the other. They are just as likely to cause a turnover as they are to allow an explosive touchdown. They don’t do anything particularly well, besides creating turnovers. The Knights are first in the country in forced turnovers. They have cause 20 in only eight games. Let’s look are what schemes they use to wreak havoc on opposing offenses.
UCF is fast and aggressive on defense. They will bring pressure and force the Bulls to get the ball out quickly in the passing game. However, doing so will leave them susceptible to the big play. Can the Bulls take advantage?
The season is almost over. Jeff Scott and his team have had to fight through some unprecedented adversity this year. A win, however unlikely, would be great. But it’s not a necessity for the future of the program. This offseason will be a critical one for the team moving forward. Find the right pieces in recruiting and in the transfer portal and you can get it turned around quickly. Just ask SMU.
The offseason isn’t here yet though. We still have at least one more game to watch. Four months ago, we didn’t know if we would have any to watch. Let’s enjoy every game we get.
Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving.