Skip Holtz took over for Jim Leavitt, who coached in Tampa for 13 seasons. He went 94-57 and brought the Bulls to their first ever bowl game in 2005. He then went to four straight bowls. The best finish he ever had was third place in the Big East in ’07, where they went 9-4.
Skip Holtz has since taken over and went 8-5 in his first season. His QB, BJ Daniels, threw for 1,685 yards with 11 TD’s. His 13 INT’s is the number fans are concerned over. He missed one game halfway through the season and was never fully healthy until the bowl game, as he was often nicked up when he ran out of the pocket.
Offense: Home Cooking
Daniels’s first start ever in 2009 was a victory in his hometown of Tallahassee, Florida, where he went on the road and knocked off the 18th ranked Seminoles 17-7.
BJ needs to throw the ball down field more often and look for his check down receivers instead of going for the big play. He has a solid RB in Colorado transfer Darrell Scott. Demtrious Murray will back him up, which makes this the deepest and most talented backfield in the Big East.
The OL has two starters back, but they have good ones in RG Chaz Hine and LG Jeremiah Warren. The other three starters are talented enough to give plenty of time for Daniels to look for his deep threats: AJ Love, Sterling Griffin and Evan Griffin. Griffin was redshirted a season ago and actually played as a true freshman, playing in 10 games and totaling for 265 yards!
Offense: Where Is The Love?
The offense was the worst it ever was the past 10 years, as they ranked just 105th, averaging 309 YPG!
A healthy Daniels should mean improvements will be made, but they were only 101st in passing offense, averaging 164 YPG. Watch for A.J. Love to become the man in the passing game. He is a solid pass catcher that has big play ability.
It was brutal times in Tampa last year, and most hope that those days are long over, with momentum in their favor from a bowl victory.
Defense: Is The Next Star Ryne Giddins?
The defense has six returning, and they will be led by a LB core that was one of the finest in the Big East a season ago. UCONN had those studs last year, and USF looks to have a bunch for this year.
Sam Barrington, DeDe Lattimore and Curtis Weatherspoon are collectively the best trio in the Big East because they can all roam to the ball in their sleep. They are exceptional at getting in the backfield to disrupt the opposition’s running game.
The front four is not shabby either, as they ranked 22nd against the run last year, allowing just 125 YPG. Only one starter returns in the front four in Cory Grissom, but talented DE Ryne Giddins has the makings of becoming the next big thing in the Big East and could ultimately be the best DE in Bulls history.
The secondary played exceptionally well, ranking 24th and allowing only 192 YPG. The stars are SS Jon Lejiste and CB Quenton Washington, who are both capable of putting together All-Big East seasons.
Lejiste is a ballhawk who lacks the size, but has just enough quickness to light you up over the middle. Seven of the top eight return from a season ago, and this Bulls back four should propel the defense to consistency all season long.
The Big East schedule is very favorable; however, non-conference play will test these Bulls.
The opener in South Bend will be quite the challenge, and a home game against the Miami Hurricanes will decide how much USF has grown. Remember, once upon a time in October of 2007, South Florida was ranked No. 2 in the nation. They have the talent, but will have to beat the best in West Virginia and Pitt.
Predicted Finish: 9-4, 6-1
Predicted Bowl: Champs Sports Bowl
Predicted order of finish in Big East: Second