#19 South Florida Football 2017 Preview


South Florida Bulls


Overall Rank: #19

#1 American

South Florida built off a great finish to the 2015 campaign with an even better 2016 season. The Bulls went 11-2 with losses to Florida State and Temple. They wrapped up the season with an overtime victory over South Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl. Coach Charlie Strong takes over the program after three average seasons at Texas and steps into a great situation. This is a very talented USF team that will compete for a New Year’s Six bowl as the best team in the group of five conferences.
2016 Record: 11-2, 7-1
2016 Bowl: Birmingham Bowl vs. South Carolina (W 46-39)
Coach: Charlie Strong (0-0 at South Florida, 53-37 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Sterlin Gilbert
Defensive Coordinator: Brian Jean-Mary
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Quinton Flowers, QB, 1,530 yards
Passing: Quibton Flowers, QB, 2,812 yards
Receiving: Marquez Valdes-Scantling, WR, 415 yards
Tackles: Auggie Sanchez, LB, 120
Sacks: Auggie Sanchez, LB, 6.0; Bruce Hector, DL, 6.0
Interceptions: Deatrick Nichols, CB, 4
Other Key Returnees: RB D’Ernest Johnson, WR Tyre McCants, TE Michael Wilcox, S Tajee Fullwood, S Jaymon Thomas, CB Ronnie Hoggins, DE Mike Love
Key Losses: RB Marlon Mack, WR Rodney Adams, OL Kofi Amichia, OL Dominique Threatt, LB Nigel Harris, DB Nate Godwin
South Florida ranked fourth in the country in scoring offense. Quarterback Quinton Flowers accounted for much of those 43.8 points per game. He threw for 2,812 yards and 24 touchdowns and rushed for 1,530 yards and 18 touchdowns. That is a lot of production and if the Bulls live up to their potential, Flowers will get some Heisman consideration. Flowers completed 62.5 percent of his passes last year and a talented wide receiver corps will help keep that number above 60 percent. Tyre McCants and Marquez Valdes-Scantling are both speedsters and Darnell Salomon is a promising sophomore who could be in for a big year. With some talented pass catching tight ends as well, Flowers will be able to spread the ball around. The potential issue is on the ground where Marlon Mack needs to be replaced after rushing for 1,187 yards and 15 touchdowns before skipping out on his senior season to enter the 2017 NFL Draft. D’Ernest Johnson scored 14 touchdowns last season. He is a talented rusher, a very good pass catcher out of the backfield and one of the best returners in the AAC.
The Bulls return nine starters to a unit that often struggled last season. The unit ranked dead last in the AAC in pass defense and total defense and tenth in scoring defense. The Bulls figure to use a 3-3-5 formation that Coach Strong prefers as well as the 4-2-5 look that was used last season. Either way, the five players in the secondary are extremely experienced. Deatrick Nichols is an experienced senior who intercepted four passes last season and Ronnie Hoggins has started 17 games during his two seasons at South Florida. Safeties Tajee Fullwood, Jaymon Thomas and Devin Abraham are all upperclassmen. However, the secondary would benefit greatly from a better pass rush. Defensive tackle Bruce Hector tallied 6.0 sacks and linebacker Auggie Sanchez added 6.0 more. Sanchez also led the team with 120 tackles. If those two can get some help in the pass rush, South Florida’s defense should be much better across the board.
The Bottom Line:
South Florida’s schedule does not have any extremely difficult games on it. This is a team that should be able to beat Illinois at home and San Jose State on the road in non-conference play. The toughest tests in AAC competition will likely come against Houston on November 4th. A win there means the Bulls are likely on their way to the AAC East title and a trip to the conference championship game.
Projected Bowl: Peach Bowl
2016 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 285.3 (5th in nation, 2nd in conference)
Passing Offense: 226.2 (70, 8)
Total Offense: 511.5 (11, 2)
Scoring Offense: 43.8 (4, 1)
Rushing Defense: 196.5 (84, 9)
Pass Defense: 285.5 (122, 12)
Total Defense: 482.0 (120, 12)
Scoring Defense: 31.6 (92, 10)
Turnover Margin: 0.69 (14, 2)
Sacks: 2.38 (40, 7)
Sacks Allowed: 1.15 (14, 1)
Madness 2018 NFL Draft Rankings:
#69 Quinton Flowers