2013 South Florida Preview - Offense
CollegeFootballNews.com 2013 Preview - USF Offense
Preview 2013 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: New head coach Willie Taggart plans to operate a version of the San Francisco 49ers' pro-style offense, the same one he learned from Jim Harbaugh at Stanford. The Bulls are going to be a power running team that makes use of the fullback and the tight ends. In the early going, the quarterbacks won't be asked to carry the team, a good thing since USF has a gaping hole behind center. Senior Bobby Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd battled to a dead heat in the spring, with Penn State import Steven Bench joining the competition in the summer. The program will need a feature back to carry out the wishes of the coaching staff; Marcus Shaw is first in line for the job, though former JUCO transfer Michael Pierre is not far behind. The star of the offense is big-play WR Andre Davis, but his talents and production could be stunted by the situation behind center. At times, the quarterbacks will be more comfortable dumping the ball off to the backs or locating one of two quality tight ends, Sean Price or Mike McFarland.
Star of the offense: Junior WR Andre Davis
Passing: Matt Floyd
57-110, 466 yds, 0 TDs, 5 INTs
Rushing: Marcus Shaw
51 carries, 248 yds, 0 TDs
Receiving: Andre Davis
46 catches, 534 yds, 6 TDs
Player who has to step up and become a star: Senior RB Marcus Shaw
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore TE Sean Price
Best pro prospect: Davis
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Davis, 2) Junior C Austin Reiter, 3) Junior OT Quinterrius Eatmon
Strength of the offense: The receiving corps, the interior of the line
Weakness of the offense: Quarterback, running back, turnovers, red-zone scoring, execution
The career of QB B.J. Daniels was wildly inconsistent, especially in the passing game. But he was a four-year starter, so he naturally won't be easily replaced. The Bulls took a run at Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, who decided instead to finish his career at West Virginia. In the spring, this was a two-man race between 6-1, 202-pound sophomore Matt Floyd and 6-5, 217-pound senior Bobby Eveld. Eveld was the sharper of the pair, showing more poise and accuracy as a pocket passer. He's started one game in each of the last three seasons, compiling poor career totals of 82-of-150 for 837 yards, three touchdowns and seven picks.
Floyd is a very different player than Eveld, a throwback to the Matt Grothe days for his stature and ability to make things happen with his feet. Floyd will need to evolve as a passer if he's to go on and win this open job. Pressed into action by injuries, he looked lost as a two-game starter, closing the year by going just 57-of-110 for 466 yards, no touchdowns and five picks.
Watch Out For .... the staff to look to the Bench for help. South Florida didn't land Trickett, but it did get Penn State import Steven Bench. The sophomore has three years of eligibility remaining, and will be immediately available. Bench was a two-star recruit out of Georgia, whose accuracy and smarts could help him quickly flatten the learning curve at a new campus.
Strength: Diversity of skills. Eveld is a dropback quarterback. Floyd is athletic enough to entice the staff to develop specific packages that showcase his unique skill set. And Bench could be the most complete player of the three, an accurate passer with just enough quickness to extend plays.
Weakness: Efficiency through the air. This was a major worry when Daniels was around. And it still is a concern as three contenders vie for the opening. Bench has potential, yet no experience at this level. And Eveld and Floyd have combined for three touchdowns and 12 picks during their careers, testament to their inconsistency as passers.
Outlook: Head coach Willie Taggart didn't search high and low for a transfer quarterback this offseason simply to build depth. He needs a capable signal-caller around whom an offense can be built. Fingers and horns are crossed that Bench can gradually become that guy in Tampa. Floyd remains unpolished as a passer. And Eveld is no more than a stop-gap with only one season of eligibility left with the program.
The graduations of last season's top three rushers have South Florida scrambling to decide on a feature back heading into 2013. At the head of the line will be senior Marcus Shaw, a veteran of 28 career games. In 2012, he started three games, finishing with 248 yards on 51 yards. While Shaw is only 5-9 and 178 pounds, he runs very hard and never stops churning his legs for additional yardage.
The runner with the best shot of catching Shaw is 5-10, 202-pound junior Michael Pierre, a transfer from Golden West (Calif.) College who redshirted in 2012. The north-south navigator does a nice job of seeing the hole, and will give the offense the physicality and assertiveness that it's seeking between the tackles.
Also in the mix among the holdovers is sophomore Willie Davis. At 5-9 and 213 pounds, he runs with the strong base and the low center of gravity needed to bounce off tackles. As a rookie, he appeared in seven games, but only earned two carries for seven yards.
Watch Out For .... the rookies to get a fair shot of earning spots in the rotation. In Stafon McCray and Darius Tice, the Bulls landed a pair of talented Sunshine State running backs, with a chance to get on the field very early in their careers.
Strength: Yards after contact. The Bulls' top three backs come in all different shapes and sizes, but they do share a common characteristics; each does a nice job of bouncing off of defenders and lunging forward for additional yards. After ranking a respectable 38th nationally in third-down conversions, South Florida should be even more efficient in short-yardage situations.
Weakness: A go-to guy. Okay, so maybe someone emerges as the season unfolds, but at this time, USF has a severe dearth of proven backs. Shaw is the veteran, yet he's only run the ball 82 times in his career for 400 yards and three scores. Pierre only has JUCO experience, and everyone is basically a rookie.
Outlook: South Florida hasn't been home to a 1,000-yard rusher since 2005. And that streak of futility will probably remain alive until at least 2014. Head coach Willie Taggart wants to establish the line of scrimmage, while wearing down opposing defenses on the ground. He'll get there, but not this soon. The Bulls are likely to employ a committee approach led by Shaw and whichever other backs step up this summer.
Junior WR Andre Davis will bear a heavy responsibility this season. He's the best weapon on an offense that's going to be noticeably light on sure-things. He's an unfinished product, yes. But his physical gifts are obvious every time he steps on to the field. Long and lean at 6-1 and 202 pounds, Davis uses his reach to pluck balls out of the air, and his extended gait to fluidly stride past defensive backs. Once he attains a higher level of consistency, the sky is the limit of his potential. In 2012, he caught a team-high 46 passes for 534 yards and six touchdowns, but almost half of his production occurred in the first three games.
A handful of Bulls are locking horns in the race to start along with Davis at wide receiver, especially now that Sterling Griffin has opted to leave the program. Senior Derrick Hopkins finished sixth on the team with 19 receptions for 278 yards and a touchdown in 2012. At only 5-5 and 158 yards, he's a speedy slot guy, who's capable of getting lost behind his blockers. Junior Deonte Welch brings far better size to the position, a physical 6-0, 206-pounder with strong hands. No stranger to the lineup, he's started seven games over the last two seasons, catching 18 passes for 183 yards last fall. Sophomore D'Vario Montgomery is another can't-miss target for the USF quarterbacks. He goes 6-5 and 200 pounds, with the long arms to pluck balls out of the air. The former four-star Montgomery lettered as a rookie, making six grabs for 65 yards.
The new staff wants to make better use of the tight ends. It has a couple of good ones from which to choose. Sophomore Sean Price was as good as advertised as a rookie, catching 21 balls for 209 yards and score … all over the final six games. An athletic 6-3, 249-pounder, he's capable of creating matchup problems with opposing linebackers. However, junior Mike McFarland, a Florida transfer, is hanging around in the battle to start. While quiet in his first two seasons, he has the fluid gait and 6-5, 244-poundthat warrant more attention from the quarterbacks.
Watch Out For .... the ability of WR Chris Dunkley to get—and keep—his act together. Until recently, the former blue-chip recruit of Florida was serving a suspension in relation to his arrest last September. Dunkley has the potential to be exactly what the offense needs on the outside, but only if he maintains his focus throughout the year.
Strength: Athletic ability. Yeah, they're raw and unpolished, but the wide receivers and the tight ends possess the measurables to lend hope to the corps and the passing game as a whole. Across the board, these targets are very fast, agile and capable of making plays above opposing DBs. It's a group with a high ceiling, and the untapped physical ability to begin stretching defenses.
Weakness: Consistency. With youth and relative inexperience often come inconsistency and a lack of sustained productivity. After Davis and maybe the tight ends, the receivers are still unfinished skill position players, and could remain that way for a little while longer. If someone doesn't emerge on the outside, Davis' production is going to be negatively impacted.
Outlook: Davis is a terrific playmaker, with a career path that could end with a stop in the NFL. However, he needs a lot more support in order to maximize his considerable potential. The tight ends bear watching, especially if the Bulls follow through and use them more. Holding the key for the passing attack will be the balance of the receiving corps. If Davis is the only Bull consistently stretching the field, it'll be grim news for the entire offense.
With the return of seven linemen who started at least one game in 2012, South Florida believes it has the ingredients to be pretty good in the trenches this fall. Arguably the best of the holdovers is 6-3, 273-pound junior C Austin Reiter, a starter in every game a year ago. The member of the preseason Rimington Trophy watch list is intense, hard-working and quick with both his hands and his feet. Reiter is the leader of the unit, from both a physical and an emotional perspective.
The Bulls' most consistent tackle will be 6-6, 311-pound junior Quinterrius Eatmon, a starter in all but one game at right tackle over the last two seasons. He has experience and an undeniable physical presence, yet needs to continue paying attention to his conditioning and footwork in order to keep the pocket clean.
Protecting the quarterback's blindside at left tackle will likely be junior Darrell Williams. The 6-5, 287-pound native of Jamaica saw action in eight games, yet was limited by injuries to only five starts. The coaching staff is eager to see what Williams can do when he's at full strength for an entire season.
Sophomore Thor Jozwiak started the final five games of his rookie year at left guard, a role he's looking to reprise this season. The 6-4, 307-pound son of former first-round NFL Draft pick Brian Jozwiak is nasty at the point of attack and well-coached at his craft. The opportunity is there for Jozwiak to spend the next three seasons as a member of the starting lineup.
While it's not quite a certainty yet, 6-4, 305-pound sophomore Brynjar Gudmundsson is well on his way to earning a starting job at the other guard opening. While he only played in nine games, starting one, the coaches like the physicality he brings to the offense, especially on running downs.
USF will need more time to build its depth heading into the new season. Sure, two Bulls tackles, 6-5, 274-pound sophomore Max Lang and 6-3, 316-pound senior Lawrence Martin, started a game in 2012, but otherwise played sparingly. The staff will need to work hard on developing the freshmen in the summer and the fall.
Watch Out For .... the injury reports. The Bulls had a difficult year in the trenches in 2012, with dinged-up starters being a contributing factor. South Florida rarely had the same lineup on a week-to-week basis, which greatly impacted chemistry. Simply staying healthy will pretty much guarantee improvement for this unit in 2012.
Strength: The interior. Led by Reiter, the Bulls promise to be tough and physical on the inside of the line, helping create space for the team's running backs. Sophomores Jozwiak and Gudmundsson may not have a lot of experience, but both are capable of evolving into key components of the blocking unit as the season unfolds.
Weakness: Pass protection. The Bulls had too many breakdowns in protection a year ago, a situation they'll need to address in 2013. After getting bailed out regularly by the quick feet of QB B.J. Daniels, the unit isn't likely to be as fortunate this season. It's time for Eatmon and Williams to maximize their potential, and help support the development of the new quarterback.
Outlook: There's cautious optimism surrounding an O-line that has a chance to be improved upon last year … provided the injury bug isn't biting. By American Athletic Conference standards, South Florida boasts a pretty solid blocking unit that will not be starting a single senior. If the Bulls can coalesce this fall, it'll set the stage for a breakout performance in 2014.
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