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Cincinnati RB Pead poses stiff challenge

Posted Oct 18, 2011 by Adam Adkins

Updated Oct 18, 2011 at 06:59 PM

Here’s the story from correspondent Michael Manganello:

Having allowed a 100-yard rusher in each of its last two games, the University of South Florida has another stiff challenge to face Saturday in Cincinnati running back Isaiah Pead.

The Bulls have allowed an average of 125.5 yards per game rushing on the ground, but have struggled to stop the run in three games against BCS-caliber competition in Notre Dame, Pittsburgh and Connecticut.

The Fighting Irish’s Cierre Wood had 110 yards and one touchdown against USF, while Pittsburgh’s Ray Graham ran for 226 yards and two scores. UConn’s Lyle McCombs rushed for 130 yards against the Bulls last week but was kept out of the end zone.

Pead has rushed for more than 100 yards three times this season, including a season-high 167 yards against N.C. State, and has recorded at least one rushing touchdown in every game this season.

“(Cincinnati has) one of the better running backs in the league,” USF coach Skip Holtz said. “(Pead is) very similar to Graham that we played at Pitt … he’s got speed, power. He is probably a bigger, more physical Graham, would be the best way to put it.”

Pead also has a habit of scoring on long runs. Of his eight rushing touchdowns this year, three have been for 40 yards or more, with scoring runs of 40, 65, and 50 yards against Austin Peay, Tennessee and Louisville, respectively.

Preventing Pead from breaking off long runs will be key for defensive coordinator Mark Snyder’s group.

“We’ve got to make (Pead) work for (yards),” Snyder said. “If they’re willing to give him the ball 35, 40 times, he’s going to get his 100 (yards). That’s going to happen and you’ve got to live with that. But we can’t give up the big one.”

In last year’s game, which saw the USF defense yield 590 yards of total offense in a 38-30 win, the Bulls’ run defense held strong and gave up only 78 rushing yards, 48 of which were to Pead. Regardless, Pead’s 5-foot-11, 200-pound stature and abilities with the ball in his hand present a concern for the USF defense.

“We’re going to have to stop Isaiah Pead,” Snyder said. “I think he’s as good as Ray Graham, he’s a little bigger. He’s got tremendous balance, he’s got great vision, he’s got pretty good speed, really good ball skills. He’s a really good player.”

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