The University of South Florida Bulls are preparing to face the Texas Tech Red Raiders in the Birmingham Bowl, the second consecutive year the Bulls will play in this bowl game. However, unlike last year’s opponent South Carolina, this Texas Tech team is not a new opponent. Well, not for head coach Charlie Strong it’s not.
Coach Strong, along with offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, faced the Red Raiders in each of his three years as the head coach of Texas. While Strong’s records at Texas weren’t his greatest, he found success against Texas Tech going 2-1 in the three seasons.
Being the defensive minded coach that Strong is, he is going to have a challenge on his hands with Tech’s fifth year senior quarterback Nic Shimonek under center. Shimonek started the first 11 games of the year and came off the bench in the Red Raiders’ final regular season game, against Texas, to lead Texas Tech to victory. Shimonek has thrown for over 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns so far this year thanks to some help from senior wide receivers Dylan Cantrell and Cameron Batson.
This Bulls defense is battle-tested and ready for whatever Texas Tech throws their way. They have faced some of the tough challenges throughout the year, including American Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Year McKenzie Milton from the undefeated UCF. Senior linebacker Auggie Sanchez, who led the team in tackles again this season, will be a keep part in shutting down Shimonek and the Red Raiders offense.
Using the familiarity of this Red Raiders team will need to be a focal point of Coach Strong’s gameplan. His history against Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury and their flying offense will prove to be an advantage for the Bulls, as they continued to prepare
How big an advantage? We’ll find out, as the teams face off December 23rd.
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