USF vs. Elon fearless prediction and game preview.
Date: Saturday, September 1
Game Time: 6:00 pm ET
Venue: Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL
USF (0-0) vs. Elon (0-0) Game Preview
With a showdown against Georgia Tech up next, and with Illinois to follow, USF needs this game to secure up the quarterback situation, reload a bit, and be ready for the showcase games to go after the national street cred.
But Elon will be more than just a speed bump.
The Phoenix are coming off a strong 8-4 season with a berth in the FCS playoffs. They return loaded with experience, led by a dangerous defense that can keep up the pressure all game long.
USF has enough talent to grow into the American Athletic Conference champion, but it’s going to take a bit to get there. That’s what this game is for.
One Reason Why Elon Will Win
Again, the pass rush and the pressure into the backfield should be there.
LB Warren Messer and DE Marcus Willoughby lead a group that cranked up 31 sacks and 63 tackles for loss. The Bull O line should be fine, but is coming off a year when it allowed way too many big plays behind the line.
The Elon offense is loaded, too, with nine starters back, including most of the key skill guys and four veterans back up front.
One Reason Why USF Will Win
The secondary should clamp down on the Elon passing game from the start. The Phoenix didn’t have a high-powered passing game, and it’s not going to do much against this group to kick things off.
There might be some key losses on the defensive front, but defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary is going to turn the new guys loose. There’s a lot to prove in the opener, and that’s a good thing. Several of the parts on the front seven have been waiting for their turn, and they’re going to come out roaring.
What’s Going To Happen
USF was notoriously slow at getting going early on last season – the Bulls only beat Stoney Brook 31-17. That’s not going to be a problem against Elon.
The Phoenix have too much experience to be destroyed, but the new guys in the USF backfield will run well early on, and the defense will put on a show. It’ll be a wee bit rocky at times – the passing attack might not be crisp – but it’ll be a good, easy win with little stress.