South Florida looks to get its offense in gear and that may lead to a change at quarterback when the Bulls host FCS member South Carolina State on Saturday night in their last tune-up for American Athletic Conference play. USF has managed 10 points combined in a pair of losses to open the season and senior quarterback Blake Barnett struggled to get going while freshman Jordan McCloud led the Bulls to a score in last week’s 14-10 setback at Georgia Tech.
Neither team has been particularly good on third down. Offensively, both teams have fewer than ten third down conversions through two games. Defensively both have given up eleven conversions, with SC State defending one more third down than USF. South Florida with South Carolina match live
There is a ten yard difference in average starting field position, with USF starting on their own 25 and S.C. State starting at their own 35 yard line. That discrepancy is some small part explained by the third factor in the Marino Rule Plus, turnovers.
Through two games, USF remains -2 in turnover margin. This number still lingers from game one against Wisconsin, as the Bulls broke even in turnovers with Georgia Tech (2-2). This number is currently tied for 100th nationally.
On the other side, South Carolina State has a +6 turnover margin. This number ties for second nationally in the FCS. Turnovers were a large part of their upset against Wofford. The Bulldogs intercepted four Wofford passes on their way to victory.
South Carolina State runs a no-huddle offense featuring 10 (1 back and 0 tight ends), 11 (1 back and 1 tight end), and 12 (1 back and 2 tight ends) personnel.
Their offensive coordinator labels himself as a run-and-shoot coach. The run and shoot is a pass first offense that is predicated on wide receivers reading coverages and adjusting their routes on the fly. The traditional run and shoot is also almost entirely 10 personnel. Think Hawaii.
Against Wofford, S.C. State threw the ball 27 times and ran the ball 28 times (somewhat inflated by trying to run clock with a big lead). As we stated above, they also used various personnel groupings, and most of the time they were in 11 personnel. Based on this information it would be safe to say that S.C. Still there are some run-and-shoot elements in the offense that are worth examining.
One thing the Bulldogs did early and often was taking shots down the field. On several second-and-longs, a down where many coaches are trying to get back into third-and-manageable, S.C. State ran all vertical routes and let it fly. On one memorable sequence, the Bulldogs took a shot on second-and-ten and the ball fell incomplete. So, what did they do on third-and-ten? A screen? A draw? A route combination right at the first down marker? Nope, they threw it deep again. The pass fell incomplete and they had to punt. Even though it didn’t always work out, S.C. State remained aggressive most the game. Even when trying to run out the clock, they threw a smoke screen out to a receiver instead of just handing it to a running back.
If they are running a modified version of the run and shoot, that could allow them to stay aggressive while also mitigating some risk. One staple of the run-and-shoot is converting routes based on coverage. Let’s look at, what I believe to be, an example from game one.
In the second quarter, S.C. State has the ball on their own 40 yard line. They come out with 10 personnel and in a Trips Open formation.