2011 South Florida Preview
USF QB B.J. Daniels
USF QB B.J. Daniels
Posted Jun 12, 2011

Is South Florida ready to become more of a factor in the Big East? Head coach Skip Holtz had a decent first season, but now the expectations are higher, the experience is lower - at least on offense - and the schedule doesn't have too many favors. Can B.J. Daniels and the Bull attack become more consistent? Check out the CFN 2011 USF Preview.

USF Bulls

Preview 2011

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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Skip Holtz
2nd year
12th year overall: 80-55
Returning Lettermen
Off. 20, Def. 22, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 15
Ten Best USF Players
1. LB DeDe Lattimore, Soph.
2. CB Quenton Washington, Sr.
3. QB B.J. Daniels, Jr.
4. LB Sam Barrington, Jr.
5. SS Jon Lejiste, Jr.
6. RB Demetris Murray, Jr.
7. DE Ryne Giddins, Soph.
8. LG Jeremiah Warren, Sr.
9. RB Darrell Scott, Jr.
10. WR Evan Landi, Jr.
2011 Schedule

Sep. 3 at Notre Dame
Sep. 10 Ball State
Sep. 17 Florida A&M
Sep. 24 UTEP
Sep. 29 at Pitt
Oct. 15 at Connecticut
Oct. 22 Cincinnati
Nov. 5 at Rutgers
Nov. 11 at Syracuse
Nov. 19 Miami
Nov. 25 Louisville
Dec. 1 West Virginia

South Florida is a budding force out of the Big East, and that's no bull.

Until last season, Jim Leavitt had been the only head coach in the brief history of USF football. However, with great deference to the architect who laid the foundation, it became clear he was only going to take the Bulls so far. The program needed a man who could build new levels on top of that ground floor. Someone, say, like Skip Holtz.

With one arm tied behind his back, as he adapted to new personnel and pivotal departures, Holtz delivered a better-than-expected debut in Tampa, leading South Florida to a third straight 8-5 year in what could have easily been a rebuilding season. Unlike the last two, though, the Bulls amassed a head of steam down the stretch, beating Miami on the road in November and Clemson in December for their first bowl victory. The excitement is palpable on campus and the expectations are headed north.

After spending his first year getting to know his players, Holtz and his staff are now attempting to maximize their talent, especially on offense. The D should fine. It always is, turning quality athletes into next-level defenders. If the program, however, is going to ascend beyond eight-win seasons, it'll need to score more points and produce more big plays. Are you up to the challenge, B.J.? Fair or not, young QB B.J. Daniels became the face of the offense's troubles, regressing from his rookie year and throwing more interceptions than touchdowns. He needs to evolve, but so do the Bulls around him, a unit returning just three other starters. A lot will hinge on a talented backfield bolstered by the return of Demetris Murray and the availability of Colorado transfer Darrell Scott, a former five-star recruit.

Just one year into his tenure, Holtz has already determined that a Big East championship is the next step in South Florida's evolution. Heady expectations for the program. Leavitt used to posit similar beliefs when he was on the sidelines. The difference, of course, is that Holtz appears capable of delivering on them very early in his Bull career.

What to watch for on offense: Great Scott. Okay, so RB Darrell Scott didn't work out so well for Colorado, suffering from injuries and a questionable work ethic over two seasons. Tampa, though, represents a new lease on life for a back considered a can't-miss recruit just three years ago. At 6-1 and 230 pounds, he still possesses the quickness and vision to begin reaching expectations in his new digs. Even if he shares the load with Demetris Murray, if he can get his act together and remain focused, the junior has a golden opportunity to reinvent himself and put a much-needed charge into the Bull ground game.

What to watch for on defense: Gidd-y up. The only reason some folks have been a little disappointed by DE Ryne Giddins' first two years is that he arrived with more attention than any recruit in school history. In 2009, an ankle injury limited him to three games, and last fall, he took a backseat to the veterans. Healthy and entrenched atop the depth chart, he's set to take flight and become South Florida's next star pass rusher. An explosive playmaker off the edge, he's packed on the muscle in an effort to better handle the demands of being an every-down player.

The team will be far better if… the offense plays with a higher level of consistency. In last season's five losses, the Bulls averaged a measly 11 points, often squandering great defensive efforts. After ranking 113th in the country in third down conversions and 99th in red zone touchdowns, South Florida must develop its passing game and convert when it matters. The defense is good, but even it's going to buckle and require more help from time to time.

The Schedule: The Bulls will know where they stand right away with a road trip to Notre Dame. Win that, and all of a sudden the season takes on a very, very interesting look with a near-certain 4-0 start with Ball State, Florida A&M, and UTEP to follow before going into the nasty Big East opener at Pitt. On the plus side, the Bulls have off-weeks before facing Connecticut and Rutgers on the road, and even better, the final three games of the season are at home. After starting out with the non-conference match against Miami, dealing with Louisville and West Virginia could make or break the Big East season.

Best offensive player: Junior QB B.J. Daniels. Still? Yeah, this speaks to the quarterback's potential and the dearth of sure-things on the South Florida offense. As ineffective as Daniels was last year, he's still the heart of the attack, a player good enough to earn MVP honors in the Meineke Car Care Bowl win over Clemson. A terrific, physical athlete and savvy runner, he has two more years to polish up his throwing mechanics and truly develop into a dual-threat playmaker behind center.

Best defensive player: Sophomore LB DeDe Lattimore. Before he's through, Lattimore is capable of becoming the best non-Buccaneer linebacker to ever play in Tampa. He got off to a solid start as a rookie at weakside, making 69 tackles, 6.5 stops for loss, and 2.5 sacks. For a solid, 6-2, 237-pounder, he moves well from sideline-to-sideline and plays with keen instincts. With a full season of experience now behind him, he's on the verge of becoming the Bulls' premier defender and an All-Big East contender.

Key player to a successful season: Junior RB Demetris Murray. QB B.J. Daniels is an obvious choice, and RB Darrell Scott might emerge into a workhorse, but for now, Murray is the lead horse in the stable of backs. He's a north-south runner, who played well last fall, rushing for 542 yards and sporting nice hands out of the backfield. The kind of back who can help control time of possession, he's ideally suited to keep the chains moving, wear out opposing defenses, and relieve Daniels of some pressure.

The season will be a success if ... the Bulls break the cycle of eight-win seasons and rise up the Big East ladder. As well as South Florida played in 2010, it still finished below .500 in conference play for a third straight year. For this coaching staff, that's no longer unacceptable. Any hopes of getting over the hump and playing in better bowl games begin with the Big East portion of the schedule. Only when the program can go 5-2 inside the league will it be able to dream of 10-win campaigns.

Key game: Sept. 3 at Notre Dame. As enormous as Big East play is to South Florida in 2011, a trip South Bend has more to offer than any game with Pitt or Cincinnati. There'll be plenty of storylines, with Skip Holtz returning to his alma mater and the school he coached at with his dad in the early 1990s. More important, the Irish always afford opponents a larger than normal stage with which to introduce their unique brand. An opening day win in this storied venue would provide an enormous boost to a program with lofty visions for the future.

2010 Fun Stats:
- Fumbles lost: South Florida 6 – Opponents 5
- Penalty yards per game: South Florida 46.1 – Opponents 60.5
- Third quarter scoring: South Florida 107 - Opponents 54

- 2011 USF Preview | 2011 USF Offense
- 2011 USF Defense | 2011 USF Depth Chart
- USF Previews  2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006