TAMPA, Fla. —- Well nieces and nephews your old Uncle Mel sure enjoyed the week off but it is all over and it is time to get back to work.
University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart and his team also took some time away from the game and got caught up on getting those nagging injuries healed and for the student-athlete getting homework and school projects finished.
Taggart did not forget about this week’s opponent for the Bulls, it is a team that is physical and is quick, a team that is No.18 or No. 16 in the nation which ever poll that you subscribe to and is the favorite according to the media is to win the first American Athletic Conference title.
Taggart told your old uncle that his team is going to be in the race too for that title and so far the Bulls have been making strides up the conference mountain.
The Bulls are currently in a three way tie at the top of the league but clearly this week’s game against the University of Louisville will be the toughest test for the Bulls.
The first question Uncle Mel asks, can the Bulls defense contain the Cardinals high-energy offense that features a Heisman Trophy contender and plays quarterback, can the Bulls stop Teddy Bridgewater?
Your old uncle can’t see very good but he did get a chance to watch Bridgewater in action and he can do just about everything that his coach Charlie Strong asks.
Bridgewater has the tools to be a good football player on Sunday afternoon, he is quick, he is accurate and most important he is a smart football player.
Bridgewater is ranked third in the nation with 20 touchdown passes, 10th in passing yardage and is 20-8 in his college career.
Taggart agrees with Uncle Mel saying that Bridgewater is a talented football player and will continue his football career at the next level.
“Sometime it’s not fair some of the things he does but our guys are looking forward to the challenge,” Taggart said about Bridgewater. “They’re really excited about it. Why wouldn’t you be when you’re a competitor and you’ve got a chance to go against one of the best quarterbacks in the country. They all want to play against an NFL quarterback and you’ve got a chance this week.”
Your gray hair uncle was also told about USF defensive tackle Todd Chandler, he played against Bridgewater back in high school at Miami Northwestern, he does like seeing and talking to friends on the gridiron including Bridgewater but that is after the game.
Chandler said the Bulls defense will be ready and to keep Bridgewater from getting too many big gaining plays.
“He’s brilliant. He can read defenses. He’s great under pressure, so we’re going to have to come in and hit him as many time as we can, hit him every time he throws the ball, to get him out of rhythm,” Chandler said about the game plan to stop Bridgewater. “Once Teddy catches rhythm, he finds his groove and he just keeps going with it.”
So let see, if you old Uncle Mel has a mental picture of this defensive game plan.
The Bulls will hit Bridgewater, in the pocket, hit him while he scrambles or when he calls his own number to run with the ball.
The Bulls’ defense will be entering the game, improved especially when it comes to creating turnovers and scoring points off of those turnovers. The Bulls defense has created 13 turnovers this season and in the last three games they have found the end zone three times and that solid production from the defense has helped the Bulls in winning two straight games.
“We believe in (defensive coordinator Chuck) Bresnahan and his plan,” Chandler said. “We’re just executing the last two games creating turnovers and touchdowns. It’s just coming together.”
The second question that Uncle Mel is pondering about, is what can the Bulls offense do against a physical Cardinal defense?
Let see if your old gray-beard uncle can refresh his memory.
The Bulls talented running back, Marcus Shaw has ran for 100 yards three times this season but against the University of Cincinnati, he hurt his leg in the second quarter and he has not returned to the lineup.
Also in that game against the Bearcats, USF quarterback Steven Bench went down with a injury too and he was replaced by Bobby Eveld.
Taggart has all ready named Eveld as the starting quarterback against the Cardinals.
“First and foremost, he’s done a good job at taking care of the football,” Taggart said about Eveld progress. “That is so important with us as we continue to get better offensively trying to take care of the football. I think that’s a big reason we’ve ended up on the right side of these games.”
Eveld is a senior at USF he appeared in five games, he has thrown the ball 91 times completing 35 passes for 433 yards. His completion percent is 38.5 and he also has thrown two touchdown passes but he has also thrown two interceptions.
Uncle Mel feels that the special team’s play against the Cardinals will make an impact in the game.
The Bulls will need to give a solid performance, covering kickoffs, punts and when the opportunity arises for a field goal-the Bulls special team will have to convert those chances into three points.
Bulls’ place kicker Marvin Kloss is doing a good job by remaining consistent, he has hit a 52-yard field goal against the University of Cincinnati and he did provide the offense against the University of Connecticut, a 13-10 victory over the Huskies.
Kloss was awarded with the American Athletic Conference Special Team Player of the Week for October 5,2013.
“I love Marvin from day one when I got the job,” Taggart said about Kloss. “Knowing offensively that we were going to struggle a little bit, you’ve got to have someone at the kicking position who can help you out at times and he’s stepped through!”
Taggart will be hoping that the punting game will also rise to the occasion against the Cardinals.
Now nieces and nephews your old uncle has been told by many football coaches that field position can be critical for a team to have success, you want to give the defense a chance by making the opponent go a long way.
Taggart will be hoping that Bulls’ punter Mattis Ciabatti has a extra-fine day against the Cardinals.
Ciabatti will be looking to improve his punting average of 41.3 yards, he had plenty of action against the Huskies, punting nine times for 44 yards including dropping three punts inside the 20-yard line, including the final punt of the day that rolled and pinned the Huskies down at the 5-yard line.
“It make me feel good that I’m doing my job,” Ciabatti said. “The specialists aren’t the biggest part of the team but when we can be a big part of the team we love it.”
Taggart and Uncle Mel knows that his team can not stop Bridgewater, the best idea is to contain him with minimal damage to the scoreboard but with a limited running game to control the clock the Bulls will have to rely on a mistake free game and field position.
So your old buddy Uncle Mel believe this, if the Bulls can play the best game of the season and if all phases play well then a Homecoming miracle can happen this Saturday afternoon October 26, 2013 inside Raymond James Stadium.
A win against the University of Louisville will make next week perpetration feel like a holiday.
A quick note from Uncle Mel!
Uncle Mel would like to extend his prayers to the family of Eastern Michigan University’s wide receiver Demarius Reed who was senselessly killed at his off-campus apartment October 17,2013
Reed talked with Uncle Mel and left an impression of bright, intelligent young man that had a bright future after he finished earning his degree at Eastern Michigan University.
Unfortunately, his brightness will no longer be seen but his smile will always be in Uncle Mel’s heart and never fade away.
About the Author
Written by Mel Suiter
Graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2002 and have been working as a beat writer for The Ypsilanti Courier covering Eastern Michigan University football and men's basketball during my school career and after graduation. I like the Mid-American Conference and the rest of the mid-major conferences.