Here are the big things to focus on this week as the Bulls take on the Owls of
Ga'Hoole Florida Atlantic. (DAMN THAT FREAKING MOVIE.)
1. Someone come up with a contraption that will let me watch (and more importantly, record) this game on an actual TV. I'm out of the area of course, and I appreciate having ESPN3. It's better than nothing, but it's really difficult watching a game on it. Not to mention I can't record it to a DVR, watch it later, and then archive it with the other 11 games that will be televised this year. Very annoyed they couldn't figure out a way to get this on Game Plan when they waste all kinds of airtime on those channels every week.
2. Run, run, run, run. FAU is dead last in FBS in run defense, giving up 827 yards in three games (an average of 275.7 yards per game). They're also giving up 6.3 yards per carry, which is 118th out of 120. I checked to see if those numbers were being skewed by playing an option team, but they weren't -- they really are that bad against the run, especially against mobile quarterbacks. UAB's David Isabelle only threw for 79 yards, but he ran for 214 yards and three touchdowns against the Owls in the season opener. With conference play starting next week, I'm pretty sure the coaches will want to limit B.J. Daniels in the running game again, but Demetris Murray and Mo Plancher should both be in line for good games this week, barring some drastic tactical changes by the FAU defense.
Also don't forget, starting defensive end Daniel Joseph is suspended for Saturday's game, along with Tavious Polo. Which brings me to...
3. Take advantage of Tavious Polo's replacement, if possible. Keith Reaser and/or Brentley Harstad move up to take Polo's place at cornerback, and normally it would be a green light to target whatever receiver is matched up against them early and often. On Saturday, though, that receiver is likely to be Evan Landi or Stephen Bravo-Brown. Both had strong opening games against Stony Brook, but with the passing game de-emphasized the last two weeks, they haven't been able to build on those performances. And it might be so easy to run the ball that USF again decides not to air it out much.
4. Shore up the passing defense, including the pass rush. USF has not been generating much pressure on quarterbacks this year -- they only have three sacks in three games and two of them were by safety Jon Lejiste. Fortunately so far, Michael Coulter (Stony Brook) and Kawaun Jakes (Western Kentucky) were not strong enough passers to really pick apart the USF pass defense, and John Brantley was still getting used to piloting the Gators attack. But Jeff Van Camp is both skilled and relatively experienced, and any team from Florida is going to have some talented players to throw the ball to. If Van Camp has time to set up and throw, this could get ugly unless the back seven starts making some big plays.
5. Start ramping it up for conference play. This is going to be another of those games like against Western Kentucky, where the visitors come in with a big enthusiasm edge, and USF could look very flat by comparison. You can't have that two weeks in a row. Don't look past this game or treat it like some kind of speed bump. Use it to build up to Syracuse and all the games after that. The season's going to be one-third over after Saturday night and the conference is clearly up for grabs. Time to make your move.