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Maryland-South Florida stats preview: Taming the Bulls

Maryland looks to continue their winning ways against a flawed opponent.

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Maryland travels to Tampa Saturday, looking to continue their winning ways against the South Florida Bulls.  A lot of people I have talked to about the game seem to confuse South Florida with Central Florida (you know, the team that went 12-1 last year and beat Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl).  South Florida has struggled of late, last posting a winning season in 2010, steadily declining from 8 to 5 to 3 and finally 2 wins last year.  Yes, this is a road game for Maryland, but the atmosphere will be less than intimidating.  USF's average actual attendance last season was 20,379, in a stadium that seats 65,857.  As FBS opponents go, South Florida is a good one to beat up on.

Maryland Offense vs. Opponent Defense

Points per game

Yards per game

3rd down conversions

Time of possession

Completion Percentage

Passing yards

Rushing yards

Turnovers

Maryland Offense

52

471

50%

33:50

45%

186

285

1 per game

Opponent Defense

31

454

47%

37:21

68%

374

80

2 per game

Defensively, USF returns 5 starters from a year ago.  The 2013 Bull's defense ranked 7th in the AAC in scoring defense, 7th in rushing defense, and 1st in pass defense.  The team's secondary lost a lot of production to graduation.  The rebuilt secondary conceded 374 passing yards given up to Western Carolina and that just won't get it done.  Troy Mitchell completed 68% of his passes against USF while attempting 67 passesin the game!  Mitchell's career completion percentage coming in was only 58%.  USF's defense could make C.J. Brown look like Joe Montana on Saturday.

On the negative side for the Terps, USF does generate a reasonable pass rush, notching 4 sacks in their first game.  Additionally, Western Carolina struggled on the ground, posting only 80 yards for the game.  The positive view of the rushing stat is that Western Carolina is a spread offense, with better play makers at receiver than tailback.

Overall, Maryland should have no problem moving the ball against USF.  I would look for a more balanced stat line than the JMU game, with yards spread more evenly between air and ground attacks.  I think the Terps score 40+ points on Saturday.

Maryland Defense vs. Opponent Offense:

Points per game

Yards per game

3rd down conversions

Time of possession

Passing yards

Completion percentage

Rushing yards

Turnovers

Opponent Offense

36

485

31%

22:34

191

37%

294

2 per game

Maryland  Defense

7

302

31%

26:10

141

43%

161

3 per game

USF's offense did not look particularly dangerous against Western Carolina.  Granted 36 points is nothing to sneeze at, but against a FCS opponent coming off a 2-10 season, one would expect USF to put up more points quite honestly.  Efficiency stats point to an offense thriving on the big play.  USF's super freshman Marlon Mack reeled off runs of 56, 60, and 62 yards against the Catamount.  Those three runs accounted for 36% of USF's total offensive production for the game.  Hopefully Maryland's front 7 can contain Mack and limit the big play.  Abysmal third down efficiency and a lackluster completion percentage should make for a plethora of punts from USF's special teams unit.

Mike White, the Bull's sophomore QB, does not appear to have improved much over his freshman year.  Last season, White's completion percentage was 53%, and he posted only 3 touchdowns vs. 9 interceptions in 6 games (5 starts).  Maryland's defense has a decided advantage in this game.  The Terps should focus on jumping out to a lead, make USF one dimensional, and force White into mistakes.

Special Teams and miscellaneous

Field goals

Field goal conversion %

Punts per game

Penalties per game

Return Yards (Punt/KO)

Maryland

1-1 (49 yards)

100% (84% in 2013

6 (5 inside the 20

5 for 35 yards

35/36.5

Opponent

3-3 (long of 47 yards)

100% (78% in 2013

3 (47 yard average)

6 for 38 yards

24/21.5

The kicking game overall is a push, as neither team has much of an advantage.  USF's kicker is a strength for his team.   Marvin Kloss is 21-26 on his career, with a career long of 52 yards.  Inside the 50 he rarely misses, converting 17 of 19 career attempts.  Brad Craddock had a strong start to the season, achieving touchbacks on 7 of his 9 kickoffs against JMU.  The Aussie also made his only field goal attempt from 49 yards (even if it needed a tail wind to get there).

USF will be punting a lot against Maryland, and that could be a problem for the Bulls.  Mattias Ciabatti has a pretty strong leg, netting a 47 yard average.  He probably doesn't want to out kick his coverage this week.  JMU's punter made that mistake against Will Likely, and got burned for a 35 yard return.  Likely and Stefon Diggs give Maryland a huge edge in the return game, and I expect the Terps to take full advantage.

Takeaways

There is a reason I don't bet on sports.  After reading FlaTerp's betting analysis of this game I was slightly worried.  Siding against profitable sports book operations is probably not a good idea, but I think the Terps roll big in this game.  USF simply does not have enough defense to hang around until the 4th quarter.  The atmosphere will be lethargic and USF will struggle to stay on the field, a recipe for disaster.  Even if USF manages to hold on, their defense will be too tired at the end of the game to put up much resistance.  I think Maryland covers the spread with a final score of 41-17.

Sources: gousfbulls.com; umterps.com; catamountsports.com