South Florida Preview 2006
South Florida QB Pat Julmiste
Posted Aug 1, 2006

South Florida was always the little program that could starting from scratch ten years ago and working its way up to become a major factor in the Big East.

Offense | Defense | Depth Chart | Further Analysis 

Getting the second-tier Florida players who don't go off to the big schools (only seven players on the roster aren't from the Sunshine State), USF is able to turn speed and athleticism into production. A defense that can move, when properly coached, can do big things, and that's where the Bulls will be able to rock; they can run with anyone.

You've probably never heard of the USF starting linebacking trio of Stephen Nicholas, Ben Moffitt and Pat St. Louis, but it's one of the best in America. The corners can fly, the safeties can fly, and the reserves can fly. In a league that's offensively challenged outside of the top tier teams, USF's speed will go a long way.

Head coach: Jim Leavitt
10th season: 61-39
Returning Lettermen:
Off. 23, Def. 22, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 20
Ten Best USF Players
1. LB Stephen Nicholas, Sr.
2. LB Ben Moffitt, Jr.
3. OT Thed Watson, Sr.
4. CB Mike Jenkins, Jr.
5. LB Pat St. Louis, Sr.
6. FS Danny Verpaele, Soph.
QB Carlton Hill, Soph.
8. CB Trae Williams, Jr.
WR Amarri Jackson, Jr.
10. QB Pat Julmiste, Sr.

2006 Schedule
CFN Prediction:

9/2 McNeese State
9/9 FIU
9/16 at UCF
9/23 at Kansas
9/29 Rutgers
10/7 Connecticut
10/14 at North Carolina
10/21 at Cincinnati
11/4 Pittsburgh
11/11 Syracuse
11/18 at Louisville
11/25 at West Virginia

2005 Schedule
CFN Prediction:
2005 Record:
Preview 2005 predicted wins

9/3 at Penn State L 23-13
9/10 Florida A&M W 37-3
9/17 UCF W 31-14
9/24 Louisville W 45-14
10/1 at Miami L 27-7
10/15 at Pittsburgh L 31-17
11/5 at Rutgers W 45-31
11/12 at Syracuse W 27-0
11/19 Cincinnati W 31-16
11/26 at Connecticut L 16-10
12/3 West Virginia L 28-13  
12/31 Champs Sports Bowl
NC State L 14-0

However, the offense hasn't quite been able to find its stride quite yet, but that's coming. In what might be the biggest key to the Big East season, the USF no huddle spread offense looks to be more effective with either rising star Carlton Hill or veteran Pat Julmiste needing to use their speed to run the attack more effectively. The defense will finish among the top 20, so if the offense can e more effective than last year when it manufactured points against Louisville but did little against anyone else of substance, a Big East title (don't sneer) is an attainable goal.

But what about West Virginia and Louisville? Aren't they supposed to be national title contenders? Yes, but what stops a great running game like the Mountaineers have? Great linebackers and defensive speed. Pat White and Steve Slaton tore up the Bulls last year for 263 yards in the 28-13 win, but the USF run defense should be even better. Ask Louisville what can happen when USF gets on a roll. In one of the shockers of the season, the Bulls destroyed the Cardinals 45-14. Unfortunately, both battles against the top teams are on the road, but they come in the final two games of the year. The schedule is light enough be bowl eligible before then if everything breaks the right way, and the potential is there to do even more.

Winning on the road against average teams like Kansas and North Carolina will be vital, because it'll be next to impossible to beat the Bulls at home. West Virginia was able to pull off a win in Raymond James Stadium last year, but USF has gone 29-6 at home since 2000 and gets all the mid-tier Big East teams like Rutgers, Pitt and UConn down in Tampa. 

While this is hardly a complete team, Leavitt's team should be able to run with everyone on the slate and should be able to get by on its defense. If everything can come together by mid-November, watch out.

The Schedule: USF doesn't play a team that'll sniff the top 25 until the final two games at Louisville and West Virginia. Is 10-0 possible? OK, OK, that's asking for a lot, but there's no reason the Bulls can't three of four on the road against UCF, Kansas, North Carolina and Cincinnati. The home games ... McNeese State? FIU? Please. Getting four of the seven Big East games in Tampa should assure another bowl trip.

Best Offensive Player: Senior OT Thed Watson. Known nationally for holding Louisville's Elvis Dumervil without a sack last year, the star JUCO transfer is more than just a solid pass protector. He'll be the anchor of a line that needs some fine-tuning and will be the main blocker the ground game works behind.

Best Defensive Player: Senior LB Stephen Nicholas. He should be off to the NFL. Instead, the speedy veteran has made 224 career tackles and 38.5 tackles for loss on his way to Butkus Award recognition and All-Big East status. If he played for a higher profile program, he'd be on more preseason All-America teams.

Key player to a successful season: Sophomore QB Carlton Hill. Pat Julmiste might be the opening day starter, but if the program is going to take a step to the next level and grow into a dangerous threat to win the Big East title in the near future, it needs Hill to play up to his promise. He'll run as well as anyone in the league, including West Virginia's Pat White, but the 6-3, 220-pound sophomore has to up the completion percentage to around 55%.

The season will be a success if ... the Bulls win nine games. There will be a few disappointments along the way before playing the Mountaineers and Cardinals, but going to back-to-back bowl games is nothing to sneeze at considering the program didn't exist all that long ago.

Key game: November 18 at Louisville. South Florida is good enough to go unbeaten in Big East play up until the final two games. Even if there's a loss along the way, a win over the Cardinals would mean the following week's showdown against West Virginia would likely be for the title.

2005 Fun Stats: 
Penalties: South Florida 106 for 831 yards - Opponents 84 for 659 yards
- Third down conversions: South Florida: 75 of 197 (38%) - Opponents 45 of 156 (29%)
- Sacks: South Florida: 37 for 264 yards - Opponents 25 for 177 yards

The Last Time South Florida…
…played in a bowl game…2005 (Meineke Car Care Bowl v. NC State)
…missed a bowl game…2004
…pitched a shutout…2005 (Syracuse)
…was shutout…2005 (NC State)
…scored 50 points…2003 (Charleston Southern)
…went undefeated…never
…won a conference title…never
…had a 3,000-yard passer…never
…had a 1,000-yard rusher…2005 (Andre Hall)
…had a 1,000-yard receiver…never
…had a first-round draft choice…never

Related Stories
South Florida Preview 2006 - Offense
 -by  Aug 1, 2006
South Florida Preview 2006 - Further Analysis
 -by  Aug 1, 2006
South Florida Preview 2006 - Depth Chart
 -by  Aug 1, 2006

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