What you need to know ...
The offense has athletes and has experience at key
positions, but will it go anywhere without all-star back Andre
Hall to carry the attack? The receiving corps has the potential
to be the second best in the league behind Louisville's
fantastic group, but someone has to get them the ball. Pat
Julmiste is a long-time starter who can't throw with any
consistency, while Carlton Hill has the talent to grow into the
star of the team if the coaching staff can live through a season
of mistakes to go along with the big plays. This is a spread
attack that likes to use four wide receivers, but it was a
running team last year. Backs Ricky Ponton and Moise Plancher
will combine to try to replace Hall.
Passing: Pat Julmiste
124-252, 1,489 yds, 6 TD, 11 INT
Rushing: Ricky Ponton
92 carries, 373 yds, 2 TD
Receiving: Amarri Jackson
22 catches, 242 yds
Star of the offense: Senior OT Thed Watson
Player that has to step up and become a star: Sophomore
RB Ricky Ponton and/or redshirt freshman RB Moise Plancher
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Taurus Johnson
Best pro prospect: Watson
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Watson 2) WR Amarri
Jackson, 3) WR Jackie Chambers
Strength of the offense: Wide receiver
Weakness of the offense:
It'll be an interesting battle all fall
for the number one spot. Will longtime starter Pat Julmiste be
the main man again, or will now be the time Carlton Hill (if
he's even part of the mix after off-season trouble) gets a
chance to try to shine? The coaching staff traveled to Missouri
and Texas to see how to better work the quarterbacks in the
spread offense, and while Julmiste and Hill can run well, they
can't throw with any consistency. Watch for a rotation between
the two until someone gets the hot hand.
The key to the unit: Completion percentage. The
quarterbacks have a great receiving corps to work with, but can
they work the ball deep and get the ball in places to turn short
plays into big gains? USF finished 113th in the nation in
passing efficiency; that can't happen again.
Quarterback Rating: 6.5
- Pat Julmiste, Sr. - 124-252, 49%, 1,489 yds, 6 TD, 11
INT, 126 carries, 336 yds, 2.7 ypc, 4 TD
Julmiste is a 6-3, 220-pound runner with a huge arm and 23 games
of starting experience, but he's hanging on to the starting job
be a thread. He has a big problem with his accuracy only
completing 48% of his career passes with 22 interceptions and 16
touchdowns, and while he can run well, but he takes too many
sacks and he needs to improve his decision making.
- Carlton Hill, Soph. - 11-24, 46%, 135 yds, 2 INT,
28 carries, 94 yards, 3.4 ypc, 1 TD
Hill is neck and neck with Pat Julmiste for the starting job and
is a better fit for the starting job. At 6-3 and 220 pounds,
he's a big presence with outstanding rushing skills. He has so
much upside that the coaching staff is trying to figure out how
to use him like Texas utilized Vince Young. With so much
athleticism that the team used him at receiver last year, he has
too much speed not to get more work if he's not the number one
option coming out of fall practices. However, he got into
trouble off the field and might end up redshirting.
- Matt Grothe, RFr.
The clear number three man in the mix, Grothe can do a little
bit of everything rushing for 1,250 yards and 15 scores as a
high school senior while passing for 2,700 yards and 33
touchdowns. He'll be a key scout team quarterback and could see
a little bit of work in garbage time.
Andre Hall didn't just carry the USF ground game, he was also
the team's leading receiver. It' going to take several backs to
try to match his overall production with Ricky Ponton and Moise
Plancher combining to try to fill the void. Former defensive
back Walt Smith will see a few carries adding some flash to the
mix, while true freshmen Keeley Dorsey and Aston Samuels might
see early work if injuries strike.
The key to the unit: Be good enough to carry the
workload. If the passing game is as lame as it was last season,
the new backs had better be prepared to combine for 300 carries.
Running Back Rating: 6
- Ricky Ponton, Soph. - 92 carries, 373 yds, 4.1 ypc, 2
TD, 6 catches, 26 yds, 4.3 ypc
A star high school linebacker as well as a running back, the
5-10, 205-pound sophomore brings good power along with a
surprising speed burst. He's not Andre Hall and won't run for
over 1,300 yards and score 13 touchdowns, but he should be
productive in rotation and has enough experience to be a feature
back early on.
- Moise Plancher, RFr.
A talented back who'll get every shot at replacing Andre Hall,
the 5-9, 190-pound Plancher has good speed and excellent
between-the-tackle moves. He saw plenty of time in practice last
year and showed enough flash to get the coaching staff thinking
he could grow into a star.
- Keeley Dorsey, Fr.
Will the true freshman get in the mix to add more speed to the
backfield? The high school quarterback has the best wheels among
the running backs clocking in a 4.4 40, but he might not get on
the field this season.
If the USF passing game isn't better than
109th in the nation, it's not the receiving corps' fault. It's a
deep, speedy and experienced group with a great mix of talents
and skills. The top three wide receivers, Jackie Chambers,
Amarri Jackson and S.J. Green, are all back, but they have to
use their talents to be more dangerous. LSU transfer Amp Hill
brings more speed to the mix, while Taurus Johnson and Jessie
Hester are talented young targets who'll grow into bigger roles.
The key to the unit: Score. Of the eight touchdown
catches made by the Bulls, only one was made by a returning
Receiver Rating: 7
- Amarri Jackson, Jr. - 22 catches, 242 yds, 11 ypc, 7
carries, 86 yds, 3 TD
Jackson finished second on the team in receiving, but he hardly
played like the dangerous target he is on a consistent basis and
has yet to show off all his skills with his biggest plays of
last year coming on runs against Louisville for two touchdowns.
At 6-5 and 195 pounds with basketball player athleticism,
Jackson poses mega-matchup problems for just about everyone. Now
he has to produce more at the X position.
- Jackie Chambers, Jr. - 21 catches, 290 yds, 13.8 ypc
The team's most dangerous all-around weapon, Chambers is an
all-star caliber kick and punt returner as well as a fantastic
deep threat. He had his biggest game late in the year catching
five passes for 94 yards against West Virginia, but he has the
speed to do a whole lot more.
- S.J. Green, Sr. - 16 catches, 229 yds, 14.3 ypc, 1 TD
The 6-3, 210-pound senior has been around for 33 games with 22
starts and should be the team's most reliable receiver. While he
hasn't been explosive and he did next to nothing until the final
four games of last year, he's tough enough to handle himself
well on the inside and talented enough to give smaller defensive
backs some major problems.
- Taurus Johnson, Soph. - 3 catches, 35 yds, 11.7 ypc
With a little bit of backup work as a true freshman, Johnson has
the skills to start at the H position in four-wide sets and be a
key target in the rotation in three-wide formations. He has
big-time upside with good size and excellent quickness.
- Tight end Will Bleakley, Sr. - 1 catch, 19 yds
USF doesn't always use a tight end in the spread formation, but
when it does, Bleakley will be part of a rotation seeing most of
his time as a blocker and on special teams. His one catch last
season came in the season opener.
- Amp Hill, Soph.
The LSU transfer was considered one of the best wide receiver
recruits in the country a few years ago. He's 6-3 and 200 pounds
with the speed to blow past anyone in the Big East. It's just a
question of time before he becomes one of the team's top
receivers, but he'll start out playing behind S.J. Green at the
- Jessie Hester, Soph. - 3 catches, 37 yds, 12.3 ypc
Hester is the son of the former NFL receiver by the same name
and showed a little of the same talent in a limited role as a
true freshman. He was a top recruit for the program with the
potential to grow into a big-play receiver along with Taurus
Johnson on the H.
Even with three returning starters up front, the line should be
an issue early on. Thed Watson is one of the Big East's better tackles
and Walter Walker is a solid guard, but everyone else will need time to
get better. 255-pound Nick Capogna is a woefully undersized center
meaning inexperienced sophomore Jake Griffin needs to play a big role,
while there's little to no experience among the rest of the reserves.
The key to the unit: Be patient. USF had one of the better
all-around lines in the Big East last year, and it should be good by
midseason after everyone has had time to work together.
Offensive Line Rating: 6.5
- OT Thed Watson, Sr.
One of three returning starters on the line, the imposing 6-8, 295-pound
senior was fantastic after coming over from the JUCO ranks. His claim to
fame was his shutdown performance against Louisville's All-America
defensive end Elvis Dumervil, and he was just as strong a pass protector
against everyone else.
- OG Danny Tolley, RFr.
One of the X factors on the line, the 6-6, 310-pound Tolley has the
size, but he doesn't have any experience. He was a very nice recruit for
the program two years ago considered the future at tackle, but he
appears to be a better fit at guard, at least early on.
- C Nick Capogna, Jr.
The former tight end turned into the starter this spring in the middle.
His emergence allowed George Selvie to stay on the defensive line and he
should be a consistent pass blocker. At only 255 pounds, his quickness,
athleticism and technique will have to make up for his lack of size.
- OG Walter Walker, Jr.
Able to play either tackle of guard, the 6-5, 305-pound junior will find
a starting spot again moving from right tackle to right guard. He's a
good pass blocker, but his size and experience are need inside to boost
the ground game.
- OT Marc Dile, Soph.
Able to play either tackle spot, the 6-4, 305-pound sophomore is one of
the team's most experienced lineman along with being one of the most
versatile. He'll start on the right size with Thed Watson holding down
the spot on the other side, but he'll play where needed and be a top
- OG Matt Huners, Soph.
A backup for most of last year with one start at left guard, Huners has
enough experience to fill in again if injuries strike. He has made
remarkable improvements in strength and conditioning over the last year,
and now he's a solid 290 pounds at left guard.
- OT Jared Carnes, Jr.
The main backup at both tackle spots, Carnes is a good 6-7, 295-pound
prospect who quickly has to establish himself as a reliable blocker int