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USF defense: Fear the bull rush

Turnovers and pression are the trademarks of our Bowl opponents

NCAA Football: East Carolina at South Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

While working on a team that’s not under usual radars, the first look goes to the offense, as it’s the unit that often creates highlights and offers the biggest and most-known names.

South Florida isn’t an exception, as, at a first look, players who hit the collective imagination are on offense, like quarterback Quinton Flowers, running back Derrius Tice, and wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.

Unfortunately, the Bulls aren’t only this, because they line up a competent defense, that knows how to give pressure and create turnovers. Head Coach Charlie Strong brought with him to Tampa his former linebackers coach Brian Jean-Mary, and made him the new defensive coordinator, with immediate results.

Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary
Credit: USF Athletics

Jean-Mary utilizes a 4-2-5 defense that sporadically becomes a 3-3-5 , based on a solid group of seniors. As said before, their defense ranks very high in the nation in many defensive stats.

While watching USF stats, it’s worth to remember the Bulls only played 11 games, while some teams already have 13 or 14. Consequently, considering stats per game is a solution to uniform performances.

The Bulls allow 22.5 points per game, and they rank 35th in the nation. They allowed less than 10 points twice in the season (seven to Temple and three to Cincinnati), while they only once allowed more than 32 points (49 to UCF).

Let’s see their main features:

We are talking about a balanced defense that often brings pressure to the quarterback and breaks into the backfield with consistency. It will be a tough challenge for the Red Raiders’offensive line, a unit that improved so much in 2017 also because it didn’t suffer significative injuries.

There are three players that in this season excelled in the pass rush: senior defensive tackle Bruce Hector (13 TFLs and seven sacks), sophomore linebacker Greg Reaves (13 TFLs and four sacks), and senior defensive end Mike Love (11 TFLs and 5.5 sacks).

The best Bulls’ ball hawk is senior safety Devin Abraham, with four interceptions, but the whole unit is dangerous in this aspect, as five more players have two or more.