#64 South Florida Football 2013 Preview

South Florida Bulls

Overall Rank: #64
Conference Rank: #6 American

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Where did it all go wrong for South Florida? This team was doing so well under Skip Holtz, the son of legendary coach Lou Holtz, that it appeared good things were headed to the Tampa area. Then came last year’s 3-9 season, and any goodwill Bulls fans had headed out the window. Holtz was fired, and Willie Taggart stepped in as the program’s new coach. Taggart turned a moribund Western Kentucky program around, to the point where its recruiting class was the cream of the Sun Belt Conference. Time will tell if Taggart can repeat his magic at South Florida.

2012 Record: (3-9, 1-6)
2012 Bowl: None
Coach: Willie Taggart (first season at South Florida, 16-20 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Walt Wells
Defensive Coordinator: Chuck Bresnahan

Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Marcus Shaw, RB, 248 yards
Passing: Matt Floyd, QB, 466 yards
Receiving: Andre Davis, WR, 534 yards
Tackles: DeDe Lattimore, LB, 76
Sacks: DeDe Lattimore, LB, 3.5; Ryne Giddins, DE, 3.5
Interceptions: Elkino Watson, DL, 1

Other Key Returnees: WR Derrick Hopkins, WR Deonte Welch, K Marvin Kloss, S Mark Joyce, S JaQuez Jenkins

Key Losses: RB Demetri Murray, RB Lindsey Lamar, QB B.J. Daniels, WR Terre Mitchell, WR Victor Marc, S Jon Lejiste, K Maikon Bonani, LB Sam Barrington, CB Kayvon Webster,

For a program that has been decimated to the levels South Florida has, the first step for strength is usually coaching. Taggart turned the Hilltoppers into a very respectable football team, one that came within four points of knocking off Central Michigan in the Little Caesar’s Pizza Bowl. What he inherits here is a challenge. His building blocks start with the defense, which returns tackling specialist DeDe Lattimore. Ryne Giddins and Lattimore supply the sacks, and Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins’ presence in the defensive secondary will disrupt opposing teams’ offenses. It would appear Matt Floyd has the starter job based on a strong spring game, including three connections to Andre Davis, but Bobby Eveld could be a capable backup.

Lack of a running game may hurt the Bulls at first, but if Marcus Shaw can pound out more yardage they may be just fine. Keep in mind last year Shaw was behind Lindsey Lamar, who is now in Hamilton with the Canadian Football League’s Tiger Cats. The top two backs are gone, as is Daniels, who racked up some yards as a running quarterback. South Florida is in the market for a kicker but four are on the roster. Time will tell whether Marvin Kloss, who handled kickoffs last year, will come over to attempt field goals and extra points. Rushing and passing, two offensive staples, are South Florida’s biggest worries.

The Bottom Line:
With all of the shakeups in the American Athletic Conference, several of the strongest Big East teams are gone. Still, the early part of the season will be the toughest. South Florida has games against Michigan State, Miami and Cincinnati, not to mention a big Homecoming game with Louisville at the end of October. The schedule smooths out some after that. Taggart’s coaching style, combined with a slightly easier AAC road, should translate into the six wins needed to get South Florida into a bowl game.

Projected Bowl:  Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl

2012 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 152.00 (66th in nation, 4th in conference)
Passing Offense: 215.50 (78, 6)
Total Offense: 367.50 (89, 5)
Scoring Offense: 20.58 (104, 7)
Rushing Defense: 149.92 (50, 7)
Pass Defense: 251.92 (88, 7)
Total Defense: 401.83 (65, 7)
Scoring Defense: 27.42 (57, 7)
Turnover Margin: -1.58 (118, 8)
Sacks: 2.08 (55, 4)
Sacks Allowed: 1.75 (51, 4)

Madness 2014 NFL Draft Rankings:
#16 Aaron Lynch

Madness 2013 Recruit Rankings:
#239 Eric Mayes


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