South Florida Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
South Florida Bulls
Posted Aug 1, 2006

South Florida Bulls Preview 2006 - Further Analysis

1st and Ten – The St. Nicholas trio – Position?  Linebacker.  State?  Florida.  Ooooohh, those guys are good.  The state of Florida spits out athletes like baseball players do sunflower seeds and the linebacker position is one area where finding the best the state has to offer will reap huge dividends down the road.  Case in point, the USF Bulls.  With a trio of linebackers that could play anywhere in the nation, the Bull defense has the makings of being the best in the Big East.  Florida boys Ben Moffitt, Patrick St. Louis and Stephen Nicholas are consistently all over the field and have gained a reputation similar to that of most Florida linebackers – fast, nasty and physical.  As a group, the Bull linebackers combined for 264 tackles, 40 tackles for a loss, 12 sacks and 8 forced fumbles.  8!  Those are astonishing numbers to say the least.  Nicholas is the most well-known (if there is such a thing for these three) of the bunch and is the play making ring leader.  The senior from Jacksonville is quick to the football and is active behind the line of scrimmage, racking up 38.5 tackles for a loss in his career.  Moffitt was the leading tackler last season and is a rock hard hitter, who also has a solid work ethic.  St. Louis is a ‘Miami kid’ and those words speak volumes – he has a solid football IQ, will lay a hat on the ball carrier and is as tough as the day is long.  Put these three together behind the Bull defensive line and the Bull defense is sitting pretty.  It’s only taken 10 years for the Bulls to reap the rewards of being in the state of Florida, and it’s been kids like these three that have gotten them to a bowl game.  With another year like the last one, the St. Nicholas trio will be headed North again in December/January for the Bulls’ second consecutive bowl game.

2nd and Seven – Game breakers breaking games wide open – While the defense was effective against most every team in the Big East, the offense, well, they had a few problems.  The principle problem was the fact that the offense was Andre Hall.  Don’t you mean the offense featured Hall?  No, the offense was Hall.  He led the team in rushing, receiving and scoring, but he’s gone in 2006.  As such, this offense needs a playmaker, well, they need playmakers, plural, but at least one will suffice.  Amarri Jackson is probably the most difficult threat to stop with his size and athleticism and the Bull offensive staff must continue to find ways to get him the ball, outside of the passing game.  RB Moise Plancher and Ricky Ponton will run behind a solid line that returns three starters.  Jackie Chambers will play opposite Jackson and is as explosive as any other offensive player on this roster.  Maybe it’s Jessie Hester or LSU transfer Amp Hill who’ll get the opportunity to make the big play.  So, the good news is that there are playmaking options.  Consequently, athletic ability isn’t the issue; it’s which one can consistently make plays to put opposing defenses on their heels.  Jackson did that against Louisville and looked what happened in that game.  No one did against NC State and looked what happened in that game.

3rd and Three – Please, oh please, not a QB ‘situation’ – Let’s be frank about the QB situation the past few years at USF – it’s been lousy.  No one has taken hold of that job since former Bull star QB Marquel Blackwell exhausted his eligibility after the 2002 season.  Senior Pat Julmiste has stuck around the program and started games in each of his first three years, but hasn’t taken the ball as his own.  In so doing, he opened the door for Jefferson County’s Carlton Hill to take snaps as a true freshman and on into the spring.  Hill’s potential is through the roof, especially as it pertains to open field running skills, but his passing abilities must improve immensely to even be competitive in the Big East.  Julmiste is the fall back plan if Hill can’t handle the prosperity, and as a relief man, he’s not bad.  This situation will turn into a positive one if Hill can be effective with the ball in his hands.  If not?  Ouch.  If there’s any indication of what teams will see this year when they face this Bull offense, the Bull coaching staff visited both Missouri and Texas this spring.  If you don’t understand what the coaching staff hopes to get out of those visits, you’ve got issues.

4th and One – Final four – The secondary for the Bulls is good.  The secondary for the Bulls is deep.  The secondary for the Bulls takes a back seat to no one in the Big East.  For as talented as the components are in the secondary, it’s what each of them bring and how they fit together that makes them, as a unit, stellar.  At the corner spots, they have lock down, physical corners in Trae Williams and Mike Jenkins, who combined for four picks last season.  At safety, they have depth with Merritt Island’s Danny Verpaele returning from a season ending injury in 2005 and impressive athletic ability across the board.  Last year, the Bulls gave up only 165 yards per game and with this group that number should shrink in 2006.

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