2012 South Florida Preview - Offense
South Florida RB Demetris Murray
2012 CollegeFootballNews.com South Florida Preview - Offense
Preview 2012 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Is this the year, B.J.? South Florida has been waiting for its physically gifted quarterback, B.J. Daniels, to put it all together in Tampa, but he’s only been able to deliver in spurts. Consistency in the passing game has been an issue for the senior, who’s been a better runner than thrower throughout his career. If he was ever going to be a true dual-threat, now would be the time to do it. The Bulls’ receivers just might be a strength for a change. Leading pass-catcher Sterling Griffin is all the way back from an injury that cost him last November. Then-rookie Andre Davis played well in Griffin’s place, and has just gotten better throughout the offseason. Oh, and former blue-chip recruit Chris Dunkley is now eligible after transferring from Florida. With the early departure of Darrell Scott, the ground game will be in the hands of powerful senior Demetris Murray, who has primping for a starring role after pitching in more than 500 yards in each of the last two seasons. For a change-of-pace, USF will turn to jitterbug Lindsey Lamar, a dangerous third-down back. Up front, the Bulls will be experienced at tackle, and a little green on the inside. The unit was quietly effective in 2011, but maintaining that personality will require new C Austin Reiter and tackle-turned-guard Damien Edwards to run with their promotions.
Star of the offense: Senior QB B.J. Daniels
Passing: B.J. Daniels
215-365, 2,585 yds, 13 TDs, 7 INTs
Rushing: B.J. Daniels
132 carries, 601 yds, 6 TDs
Receiving: Sterling Griffin
43 catches, 530 yds, 3 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior RB Demetris Murray
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Andre Davis
Best pro prospect: Senior LT Mark Popek
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Daniels, 2) Popek, 3) Davis
Strength of the offense: Dual-threat veteran under center, diverse running game, athleticism of the receivers, the tackles
Weakness of the offense: Consistency in the passing game, the interior of the line, turnovers, third-down conversions, finishing drives
The career of B.J. Daniels in Tampa has been marked by quantity and not quality. While the senior has 33 career starts going back to his freshman year, he has been highly erratic as a passer, failing to evolve up to expectations. The powerful 6-0, 215-pounder is more likely to give defenses fits as a runner, bulling his way to 1,634 career yards and 20 touchdowns on the ground . However, he sometimes strikes more fear in his own staff than the opponent’s when he drops back to pass. In 2011, Daniels went 215-of-365 for 2,585 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven picks to rank 70th nationally in passing efficiency. His arm strength is adequate, but his accuracy and decision-making need help.
While 6-5, 217-pound junior Bobby Eveld has been the team’s backup the last two seasons, he is not assured of reprising that role in 2012. In fact, he’ll have to break a sweat to remain in the two-hole. He does, however, enjoy a significant edge in experience, having started a game in 2010 and 2011. The former walk-on replaced an injured Daniels for the Louisville game, and finished the year 37-of-67 for 354 yards, one touchdown and four picks.
Neck-and-neck with Eveld is 6-1, 201-pound promising redshirt freshman Matt Floyd . He has displayed uncommon poise and maturity in each of his two spring sessions, but has yet to take a snap at this level.
Watch Out For .... Floyd to be one vicious hit or turned ankle away from being on the field at a pivotal moment of a game. Although the staff appreciates how far Eveld has come, and likes the fact that he’s no novice, it also recognizes that Floyd has a higher ceiling. Now that he has a full year behind him, he’s capable of overtaking the veteran in the summer.
Strength: Dual-threat potential. Even when defenses force Daniels to throw, he’s still liable to pull the ball down, and take off down the field. When the staff wisely took the reins off in 2011, he responded by rushing for 601 yards and six scores on 132 carries. Stout and powerful, with good speed, he can avoid the rush, and extend drives with his feet.
Weakness: Efficiency through the air. Three years into his maturation process, Daniels still has plenty to learn as a passer. He lacks accuracy, which would be more acceptable if he occasionally stretched the defense. However, the Bulls produced just two plays of more than 50 yards through the air, and tied for 81st nationally with just 15 touchdown passes.
Outlook: Daniels, while clearly an incomplete product at quarterback, does bring some very important attributes to the South Florida offense. He has a ton of experience, is well-respected by his teammates and continues to be the most dangerous runner in the program. If he can evolve, even slightly, as a passer, the ripple effect will be felt by the rest of the attack.
Darrell Scott’s decision to leave school early has bumped senior Demetris Murray to the top of the depth chart, a position he’s held infrequently while in Tampa. The career backup did start four games in 2011, rushing for 503 yards and eight touchdowns on 121 carries. He also proved valuable as an outlet for the quarterbacks, catching 18 passes for 205 yards. A rugged, between-the-tackles runner,
he has the vision to find the openings in a defense, and the lower body strength to bounce off tacklers for more yards.
The complement to Murray on the ground will be Lindsey Lamar , a completely different runner than the starter. He’s a 5-9, 164-pound senior, with the darting stop-and-start moves and blazing speed to make things happen outside of the tackles. He’s one of the more underrated multi-purpose players in the country, scoring as a runner, a receiver and a return man during his career in Tampa.
The competition for the No. 3 job will be waged between 5-9, 191-pound junior Marcus Shaw and 5-9, 206-pound junior Bradley Battles . Shaw has seen spot duty in 18 games over the last two years, rushing 32 times for 143 yards and three scores. Where Shaw has big-play ability, Battles is a more physical runner who does a nice job of fighting through tackles.
Watch Out For .... South Florida to use Lamar much the way Oregon uses De’Anthony Thomas. And why not? No. 5 is a potential game-changer, provided the Bulls can find unique ways to get him in space. He is by far the most dangerous weapon on this offense, and warrants far more touches than he’s received over the last few seasons.
Strength: Thunder and lightning. In Murray and Lamar, the Bulls boast a disparate one-two punch out of the backfield. Murray is the bruiser, the runner who’ll wear down defenses, and excel in short yardage. Lamar is capable of lighting the fuse with his jets and ability to change direction faster than defenders can react.
Weakness: A proven workhorse. Murray is South Florida’s go-to guy heading into 2012, but he hardly has the experience of an every-down back. The senior has never carried the ball more than 17 times in a game, so he’ll need to be physically and mentally prepared to handle a higher level of punishment this fall.
Outlook: It won’t be a committee, but South Florida will get multiple players involved in the ground game this fall. While Murray will get the bulk of the carries, Lamar will be used in typical—and unconventional—ways to maximize his exciting skill set. Add in the tough running of QB B.J. Daniels, and the Bulls will once again be the kind of productive ground-based team that Skip Holtz is after.
South Florida has options in the passing game. Plenty of options. Potentially more options than at any point in its history. The unit may be raw, but it’s creating a lot of excitement around Tampa. Sophomore Andre Davis might be ready to take over as the group’s leader in just his second year on campus. The four-star recruit had his seal broken after injuries created an opening, starting three games, and making 22 grabs for 273 yards and three touchdowns. The 6-1, 200-pounder gives the Bulls a bona fide deep threat, whose catch radius and ability to elevate high into the air are going to make life easier on the quarterbacks.
Currently running behind Davis on the outside is the man he replaced last fall, junior Sterling Griffin . When the 6-0, 194-pounder broke his foot in the Oct. 22 Cincinnati game, his 43 receptions for 530 yards and three touchdowns were easily tops among the Bulls receivers. Although he’s a playmaker who’ll be difficult to keep on the sidelines, back-to-back season-ending injuries to his lower extremity are cause for durability concerns.
At the opposite end of Davis and Griffin is senior Victor Marc . At 5-11 and 220 pounds, he’s not a typical wide receiver, built stocky, yet is quick to make people miss in the open field. He was used as a runner, receiver and punt returner in 2011, catching 33 passes for 357 yards, and scoring three total touchdowns.
Backing up Marc is 5-10, 158-pound junior Terrence Mitchell , the more explosive of the two receivers. He was just beginning to get comfortable in 2011, catching seven passes for 60 yards versus Ball State, when a head injury ended his season after only four games.
In three-wide sets, the slot receiver will be sophomore Ruben Gonzalez , who caught five passes for 55 yards as a rookie. At 6-3 and 197 pounds, he affords the quarterbacks a big target with which to connect, and a reliable set of hands.
Former wide receiver—and quarterback—Evan Landi is now a fixture at tight end. He started nine games at the position last year, catching 29 passes for 297 yards and a touchdown. The 6-3, 238-pounder is a good athlete, with sticky hands, and an even better feel for his spot on the field.
Watch Out For .... the impact of the newcomers. The Bulls are welcoming in a couple of gems from the 2012 recruiting class, four-star WR D’Vario Montgomery and four-star TE Sean Price. The young Floridians are cornerstone of the future. So, too, might sophomore Chris Dunkley , the ballyhooed transfer from Florida. The nation’s eighth-ranked wide receiver of 2010 is steeped in speed and electricity, but will begin the summer third on the depth chart behind Davis and Griffin.
Strength: Athleticism. You can’t turn in Tampa without bumping into one of South Florida’s exciting young receivers. As a collection, they’re very fast, agile and capable of making plays above defensive backs. It’s a group with a very high ceiling, and the raw physical ability to finally start stretching defenses.
Weakness: Consistency. With youth often comes inconsistency and a lack of sustained excellence. The USF wide receivers are still raw, and might remain that way throughout the 2012 season. It’s the little things that need to be tightened up, such as breaking quicker on routes, and pulling catches into their bodies.
Outlook: The wide receivers and tight ends have come a long way in a very short period of time. This group is brimming with untapped ability; the job of new assistant coach Jerome Pathon is to make sure that these athletes are transformed into steady playmakers, the kinds of downfield threats that help elevate the punch of the passing attack.
The 2012 offensive line will have a slightly different look, with a pair of new starters lining up on the inside. All-star Jeremiah Warren leaves the biggest hole up front left guard. In his place will step senior Damien Edwards, a journeyman up to this point in his career. The 6-5, 329-pounder has tremendous size and strength, but has only appeared in 12 games since arriving in 2008, and will have a lot to prove if the promotion sticks.
In all likelihood, right guard will be held by 6-3, 304-pound senior Danous Estenor, a returning starter at the position. Proving to be powerful at the point of attack, he was a key cog of a running game that led the Big East. However, he’s been on the shelf a lot during his career, including an ankle injury that sidelined him in the spring. With Estenor healing, 6-3, 309-pound junior Lawrence Martin, a JUCO transfer, took most of the first-team snaps. If Estenor winds up on the left side, Martin and Edwards will battle it out for right guard.
In its search for a new center, the staff has been very pleased with the development and play of sophomore Austin Reiter. He’s only 6-3 and 278 pounds, but moves very well, and looked comfortable in March and April calling out signals for the rest of the line.
The tackles will remain the same from a year ago. On the left side, 6-7, 296-pound Mark Popek plans to be the anchor of the unit in the fall. A part-timer in the lineup in 2009 and 2010, he really took off in 2011 in a borderline All-Big East campaign. He has the long arms and light feet needed to attract the attention of pro scouts if he can smooth out some of the wrinkles in his game in his finale.
At right tackle, 6-6, 313-pound Quinterrius Eatmon is looking to build on a solid debut that included some Freshman All-American recognition. Trimmed down and in the best shape of his career, he went to start all 12 games, and showcase the improbable athleticism for a big man that’ll likely position him to succeed Popek at left tackle in 2013.
Watch Out For .... Reiter to continue to evolve in the summer. While the coaches have liked his upside since he signed at USF, even they were surprised at how quickly he got comfortable in the spring. With the confidence that came from that session, and a few months to add more muscle, he ought to be raring to go in time for the opener.
Strength: Pass protection. In 2011, South Florida led the Big East in fewest sacks allowed. With the returns of Popek and Eatmon, the Bulls feel as if they can set the pace in the category once again. The program’s linemen are typically athletic, relatively light on their feet and able to keep the pocket clean on the edge.
Weakness: The interior of the line. The lone returning starter, Estenor, has been laid up with an ankle injury, and has generally been injury-prone. Martin has yet to play in the FBS, Edwards is a journeyman and Reiter is in the early stages of his career. Depth, in particular, could be an issue at center and guard as the season drags on.
Outlook: After overachieving a year ago, the reworked O-line will look to keep the bar high again in 2012. The tackles shouldn’t be an issue, and the interior figures to find a way to patch things together as the season progresses. The key will be to remain healthy, because if the Bulls have to dig too deep into the depth chart, the rest of the offense is going to suffer the consequences.
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