Thursday, August 6, 2015

South Florida Bulls Season Preview

STORYLINES
USF doubled its wins total from 2013 in Willie Taggart’s second year as the Bulls’ head coach. Since 2007, USF has registered nonconference wins against Auburn, UCF, Clemson, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), North Carolina, Northern Illinois and Notre Dame, among others. The Bulls will have new coordinators on both offense and defense in 2015. Co-offensive coordinator Danny Hope was formerly the head coach at Purdue.
OFFENSE
RB Marlon Mack was named the American Athletic Conference Rookie of the Year in 2014 after he led the conference in rushing (86.8 ypg). Mack had four 100-yard games and five touchdown runs of at least 54 yards in his freshman season. QB Steven Bench and QB Quinton Flowers will battle for the starting spot in the summer. Bench has made three career starts, while Flowers made one start as a freshman last year. Returning starters OG Brynjar Gudmundsson and OG Thor Jozwiak provide a solid foundation on the interior line. The top returning receiver is WR Rodney Adams, who had 23 catches for 323 yards and two touchdowns in 2014
DEFENSE
Defensive coordinator Tom Allen joins the staff after he spent the last three seasons as the linebackers coach at Mississippi. LB Nigel Harris led the nation with six forced fumbles in 2014. He is part of a USF defense that returns its top five tacklers from last season. Harris joins LB Auggie Sanchez as returning starters at linebacker. S Jamie Byrd also returns as a starter at the husky position. The secondary returns three starters — CB Johnny Ward, S Nate Godwin and S Devin Abraham. S Tajee Fullwood saw starting duty as well.
SPECIAL TEAMS
P Mattias Ciabatti is among the top punters in the nation. He led The American and was 10th nationally with an average punt of 44.4 yards on his way to all-conference first-team honors. The Bulls will have to replace the production of Marvin Kloss, a former Groza Award finalist who was one of the nation’s top kickers.

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