USF At First Glance: Four Names Notre Dame Fans Need To Know
After a sloppy first game against Duke, Notre Dame looks forward to their week two opponent. After getting a chance to shake the rust off, the Fighting Irish should look crisper and execute at a higher level.
They also have the perfect opponent to work out any lasting issues before playing some tougher opponents. While USF may strike worry into some Notre Dame fans because of the 2011 debacle, they have little to worry about this season.
USF struggled with The Citadel, but they did put one in the win column. The defense also played well for the Bulls and could be something to watch. However, Notre Dame should have very little resistance Saturday as they can out-talent the lesser USF Bulls. With that said, here are four players to watch for Saturday.
#1 JOHNNY FORD, RUNNING BACK
Last week stats: 9 carries, 71 yards, 7.9 yards per carry
Ford is part of the two-headed attack on the ground for USF. He put in a solid performance against the Citadel. USF was missing three starting offensive linemen during the game which makes his performance a bit more impressive. While he didn't score a touchdown he was a major reason the offense found any success.
USF only had 102 yards passing in the game and one passing touchdown. They also had three different players attempt at least four passes. With a depleted offensive line and no passing game help, Ford was a big reason the Bulls found a win. He also added two receptions for 15 yards.
#10 KELLEY JOINER JR., RUNNING BACK
Last week stats: 8 carries, 87 yards, 1 touchdown
Joiner is the other half of the rushing attack for USF. He was the leader in rush yards and tied for the leader in rushing touchdowns. USF beat The Citadel with strong defense and over 300 yards of rush yards. Joiner is the bigger back of the two but is still undersized compared to most college running backs. Standing at 5-9 and 179 pounds, Joiner is closer to the traditional back size. Ford is only 5-5 and the two will split carries throughout the game.
The run game will be what makes or breaks the Bulls offense. While the two previous players shared the bulk of the carries, eight other players registered an attempt. Notre Dame should be more than capable to shut down the rushing attack. However, keeping these two in check will be key for a Notre Dame victory.
#11 DWAYNE BOYLES JR., LINEBACKER
Last week stats: 4 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss
Boyles didn't have an overly flashy game last week, but he is one of the best defensive players on USF. He came into the season as a third-team all preseason LB by both Phil Steele and Athlon. He also finished last year with 75 tackles, three sacks, and 12.5 tackles for loss. He also has some elite size as a hybrid OLB/DE at 6-3 and 227 pounds.
The Citadel didn't have too many answers for the USF defense. Their option offense was constantly stuck in a third and long situation. That is a death sentence for an option offense and Boyles deserves some credit for the strong defensive play.
The USF defense also held Citadel to 8-18 on third downs. Third down conversions have been a bit of an Achilles heel for Notre Dame in the past. While the Fighting Irish offense shouldn't find themselves in too many third and long spots, the Bulls defense has the potential to cause some issues.
#9 KJ SAILS, CORNERBACK
Last week stats: 2 tackles, 1 tackle for loss
Sails is the top cover guy for USF and will be a major factor for USF defensive coordinator, Glen Spencer. Spencer runs a "30-float" defense that involves a ton of movement from the defensive backs to cause confusion and takeaways. It helped FAU lead the nation in takeaways with 33 (22 interceptions) under Spencer in 2019.
Sails is the leader among the defensive backs. After starting his career at North Carolina, Sails transferred to USF in 2018. The redshirt senior had 41 total tackles and finished with three interceptions in 2019.
He comes into this season with plenty of praise as the best DB on the roster. The former second-team All-AAC DB will be one of the few bright spots among an overall lackluster defense.
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