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2014 South Florida Recruiting Class Analysis

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Feb 6, 2014


2014 South Florida Bulls ... Head Coach: Willie Taggart


South Florida Bulls

2013 Record: 2-10
8/31 McNeese State L 53-21
9/7 at Michigan St L 21-6
9/14 Florida Atlantic L 28-10
9/21 OPEN DATE
9/28 Miami L 49-21
10/5 Cincinnati W 26-20
10/12 at Connecticut W 13-10
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 Louisville L 34-3
10/31 at Houston L 35-23
11/9 OPEN DATE
11/16 Memphis L 23-10
11/23 SMU L 16-6
11/29 at UCF L 23-20
12/7 at Rutgers L 31-6


South Florida | The 2014 Recruiting Class

Team Concerns For 2014: Locating an offensive pulse. The Bulls were an offensive disaster in Willie Taggart’s first season at the helm, norming a measly 13.8 points per game. USF was downright medieval at the quarterback position, accounting for seven touchdown passes and 16 interceptions. Paul Wulff has been hired as the new coordinator, but he inherits very little ready-made talent on his side of the ball. His first order of business will be to sift through the wreckage in order to locate a passer capable of moving the chains and keeping defenses honest.

The 2014 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive backs. Willie Taggart only gets to do what he wants to offensively if the line works, and that means tackles Zach Hudson and Ben Knox have to hit the weights and beef up. There’s promise and potential, but it’s going to take a little bit of time. WR Quinton Flowers is the star of the class, plucking him out of Miami, and the running back tandem of Marlon Mack and D’Ernest Johnson has plenty of upside. Even with all of the positives, but biggest positive is a loaded group of corners with Kendall Sawyer manning down one spot and Deatrick Nichols a smallish speedster.

2013 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 62. That Class Was Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Willie Taggart has built up a nice class with several decent talents. The linebacking corps has a good one in JUCO transfer Rahmon Swain and prepsters Mitchell Wright and Nigel Harris. Corner Nate Godwin leads a deep class of defensive backs, but the D is getting the most star power on the front line with Derrick Calloway a potential anchor at tackle and 310-pound Deadrin Senat a big body for the interior. Mike Love needs to add more weight, but he'll turn into a good pass rusher. The offense wasn't ignored, especially on the line with three good guards led by Dominique Threatt and Cameron Ruff.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 72. That Class Was Heavy On ... The lines. Skip Holtz has the skill players in place after loading up over the last few years, and the defensive front was addressed heavily three years ago. Now the D could use a boost up front for down the road, while the offensive line has a depth issue that has to be addressed as soon as possible. Holtz is mining the JUCO ranks and is going outside of the state to bring in talent. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 58. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. The offensive line got a huge boost with Max Lang, Darrell Williams, and Boo Simon all good tackle prospects who should be the anchors up front in the next three years, and the defense got some help with Corian Hamilton and Chris Garye two strong safety prospects, but the stars of the class are at receiver with Andre Davis a local product who should become a special No. 1 target. Ruben Gonzalez and Alex Mut are also nice gets who’ll boost up the Skip Holtz passing attack.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 47. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. Skip Holtz had roughly five minutes to work, but he still kept most of the key players Jim Leavitt originally pitched. Jamius Gunsby is a big, athletic playmaker of a quarterback who'll get a few years to develop, while Marcus Shaw and Tiger Powell are good looking speed backs who could find roles early on if JUCO transfer Michael Hayes and his 4.3 speed doesn't take over the workload. Jamaal Mantague and Deonte Welch might not be five-star receiver prospects, but they're going to be good. Defensively, JUCO transfer Claude Davis will be asked to step in right away and fill a gaping hole at one end, and top corner Terrence Mitchell will get a chance to see time in the rotation.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 25. That Class Was Heavy On ... The defensive line. Can you say epic haul? Jim Leavitt is retooling his defensive front on the fly, with a mix of talented ends and tackles from junior college, post-graduate schools, and high schools. George Selvie, Aaron Harris, and Terrell McClain won’t be around forever, so it was important to bring new reinforcements to ensure the success of the defense for the foreseeable future. DT Leslie Stirrups was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the 2006 class, but is just now making it to Tampa after problems with grades.

at Rutgers 31, South Florida 6
Basically … Rutgers became bowl eligible with two short touchdown runs from Paul James and two Chas Dodd touchdown passes with a 12-yarder to Andre Patton and a two-yarder from Michael Burton. Marvin Kloss hit two field goals for South Florida, but the offense managed just 151 yards and was mistake-prone all game long. The Scarlet Knights were never threatened.
- First downs: Rutgers 25, USF 8
- Rutgers RB Paul James ran 26 times for 113 yards and two scores.
- Penalties: South Florida 11 for 99 yards – Rutgers 8 for 81 yards
- South Florida rushing yards: 20 for 10 yards

at UCF 23, South Florida 20
Basically … UCF overcame five turnovers and an overall sloppy performance to stay in control in the hunt for a BCS bid with Breshad Perriman catching a 52-yard touchdown pass with under five minutes to play to finally give the Knights the lead for good. South Florida came up with two second half touchdowns on a 13-yard Chris Dunkley run and a one-yard Marcus Shaw run, but UCF was able to keep up on Shawn Moffitt’s third field goal of the day before Perriman’s heroics.
- South Florida committed 11 penalties for 89 yards and turned it over twice. UCF committed six penalties for 47 yards and turned it over five times.
- UCF QB Blake Bortles completed 17-of-26 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns with two picks, and he lost a fumble.
- South Florida RB Marcus Shaw ran 21 times for 67 yards and a score.
- UCF converted one of nine third down chances.

SMU 16, at South Florida 6
Basically … SMU got up 16-0 helped by third quarter touchdowns from Prescott Line on a six-yard run and a Der’rikk Thompson 37-yard touchdown catch, but USF made it interesting late on a 50-yard punt return from Chris Dunkely. The Bulls failed on the two point conversion, and never got close again.
- SMU QB Garrett Gilbert completed 19-of-23 passes for 138 yards and a score before getting hurt. Neal Burcham completed 9-of-18 passes for 91 yards and a score and a pick.
- USF converted 13 penalties for 107 yards. SMU was flagged once for five yards.
- USF WR Andre Davis caught five passes for 113 yards.
- SMU only gained 280 yards, but USF came up with just 259

Memphis 23, at South Florida 10
Basically … Memphis took advantage of five USF turnovers with Bobby McCain taking a pick 36 yards for a touchdown and Brandon Hayes scoring from five yards out to take control of the game. Jake Elliott made three field goals including a 56-yard bomb on the way to a 23-3 lead. USF didn’t get into the end zone until the final minute on a 31-yard Andre Davis catch.
- Memphis RB Brandon Hayes ran 20 times for 78 yards and a score.
- South Florida turned it over five times with four interceptions. MU’s Bobby McCain came up with three picks, taking one for a score.
- South Florida WR Andre Davis caught seven passes for 110 yards and a score.
- Memphis finished with just 242 yards of total offense with nine penalties and two turnovers. South Florida came up with 325 yards of total offense with nine penalties.

at Houston 35, USF 23
Basically … Houston go three touchdown passes from John O’Korn including a 48-yarder to Deontay Greenberry in the third for a 28-13 lead, but USF kept pushing and made it a game late with Mike White’s second touchdown pass to Mike McFarland making it a 28-23 game in the fourth. The Cougars were finally able to put the game away with a late forced fumble and a clinching score on a five-yard Kenneth Farrow run in the final few minutes.
- Houston QB John O’Korn completed 22-of-27 passes for 262 yards and three touchdowns.
- Cougar linebacker Efrem Oliphant led all tacklers with 13 stops and a tackle for loss.
- In his first start, USF freshman Mike White completed 26-of-41 passes for 311 yards and two scores.
- USF was penalized 19 times for 170 yards

Louisville 34 at South Florida 3, Oct. 26
Basically … Louisville completely dominated South Florida in all phases of the game, never trailing South Florida in Tampa. The Cardinals opened the scoring on a touchdown pass from Teddy Bridgewater, who'd go on to complete 25-of-29 for 344 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions.
- Head coach Willie Taggart won't experience progress at South Florida until he can develop a quarterback. His offense continues to be one of the most inept in America. The Bulls gained just eight first downs and 133 yards of total offense. Unable to move the ball offensively, the defense didn’t stand a chance as the game wore on.

South Florida 13, at Connecticut 10
Basically … Aaron Lynch returned a fumble 44 yards for a score and Marvin Kloss hit two field goals including a 44-yarder to give USF the lead for good in the final four minutes. UConn started out the scoring with a field goal and got a Lyle McCombs 52-yard scoring dash in the second, but that was it – the Huskies didn’t score in the almost three whole quarters.
- USF is 2-0 in the AAC. Even with all the problems to start the season and all the embarrassments, the Bulls are unbeaten where it matters. There still might not be any offense with just 228 yards, and the passing game is embarrassing with Bobby Evald completing 8-of-28 throws for 106 yards with a pick, but the defense took care of the win.
- Connecticut got 164 rushing yards out of Lyle McCombs, but the passing game didn’t show up with Tim Boyle completing just 15-of-43 passes for 149 yards. He was under constant pressure, but he got help from McCombs and he still couldn’t hit the midrange throws.
- Aaron Lynch might not be the force of will USF was hoping he’d be, but he gave the team the big scoop and score it needed along with three tackles with a sack. He did a nice job getting to the quarterback. Linebacker DeDe Lattimore was the star with 11 tackles with a tackle for loss.
- Connecticut moved the ball better, it came up with more yards, and the defense held firm time and again, not allowing a USF offensive touchdown, but it just couldn’t get within scoring range in the second half. The team should’ve been able to do more with McCombs running so well.

at South Florida 26, Cincinnati 20
Basically … USF took advantage of four Cincinnati turnovers and jumped out to a 26-6 lead on a blocked field goal for a score, a fumble return for a touchdown and four Marvin Kloss field goals. Cincinnati rallied back late with two Brandon Kay touchdown passes with a 15-yarder to Mekale McKay coming with just over two minutes to play, but USF got the onside kick.
- It all starts now. South Florida had a disastrous September, but 1-0 is all that matters. After all the problems and all the issues, the Bulls can start carving out a new season, even if the offense still isn’t doing much of anything. The defense and the Cincinnati mistakes helped the cause, but getting the first win in the Willie Taggart era is all that matters.
- Cincinnati can be forgiven for coming up with an uneven effort after spending the week dealing with the tragic loss of teammate Ben Flick, who died in a car accident. Don’t be shocked if it’s a completely different Bearcat team showing up over the next few weeks with Temple and Connecticut up next.
- How is USF going to make up for the problems on offense? The defense is going to be more aggressive. Mark Joyce came up with two picks helped by a decent pass rush and several plays behind the line keeping the UC running game under wraps.
- The Bearcats moved the ball, and they woke up late to make it a battle, but the four turnovers were devastating. Brandon Kay didn’t generate too much down the field, but he spread the ball around well. Drives didn’t start turning into consistent points until it was too late.

Miami 49 … at South Florida 21
Basically … Miami went on a 42 points run after USF tied it at seven early on with a three-yard Marcus Shaw touchdown run. Stephen Morris threw two touchdown passes before getting knocked out for the game with an ankle injury, but the offense kept on rolling Stacy Coley catching two touchdown passes and Dallas Crawford running for two short scores. USF’s defense scored in the fourth quarter on an 11-yard Julius Forte pick six, and the offense scored with just two seconds to play on a 16-yard Derrick Hopkins catch.
- Miami won the game but might have lost the war. With North Carolina and the ACC world kicking in next week, the Hurricanes need a healthy Stephen Morris under center. Ryan Williams completed 8-of-14 passes for 153 yards and a touchdown with a pick.
- Steven Bench and the USF passing game simply can’t move the ball, and they had a nightmare of a time with the Miami speed. Bench completed 13-of-27 passes for 189 yards with a touchdown and a pick, but the offense relied on Marcus Shaw and his 127 yards and a touchdown.
- The Hurricanes were a little sloppy with two lost fumbles and two picks, including the interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but they were in control from early on. The defense came up with three takeaways and ramped up the intensity when the game still mattered.
- USF simply has to take on a new attitude. The AAC season starts up next week against Cincinnati, and going forward, relying on the running game and the run defense is a start. The team needs a few breaks, but it has to start making more of its own. It couldn’t ask for much more than four takeaways and the loss of the Miami starting quarterback.

Florida Atlantic 28, at USF 10, Sept. 14
Basically … Florida Atlantic started out the scoring with a ten-yard fumble return for a touchdown from Cory Henry, and ended it with a 65-yard interception return for a score from D’Joun Smith. South Florida took a 10-7 lead in the first quarter on a 25-yard Ryan Eppes touchdown catch, but FAU scored 21 unanswered points helped by short touchdown runs from Jaquez Johnson and Jonathan Wallace before Smith’s big play late.
- The South Florida offense got a huge day out of running back Michael Shaw – 22 carries for 159 yards – but the passing game continues to be non-existent. Steven Bench completed 8-of-23 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown with a pick six. He’s not getting any help from his receivers.
- FAU might not have found much on offense, but it didn’t have to. The defense came up with three takeaways and two scores, and it managed to come up with stop after stop. It wasn’t pretty, but the Owls will take it.
- Owl linebacker Randell Johnson was everywhere, making eight tackles with three tackles for loss. Aldarius Glanton was a force with ten tackles, but it was Johnson who was the disruptive force. D’Joun Smith wasn’t bad, either with a key forced fumble and his big interception.
- When is Aaron Lynch going to explode? The Notre Dame transfer only came up with a tackle with a half a tackle for loss. The USF defense came up with a good game, but the pass rush wasn’t there.

at Michigan State 21, South Florida 6, Sept. 7
Basically … In a game that might have set back offenses a decade, the two teams combined for 420 total yards and one offensive touchdown. Michigan State’s Shilique Calhoun returned a fumble four yards for a second quarter touchdown and took an interception 56 yards for a score in the third, but the offense finally broke the plane in the fourth on a two-yard Jeremy Langford touchdown run.
- Yeeeesh. The Michigan State offense is bad enough, but it can’t start turning the ball over. The two lost fumbles were just a part of the issue for an offense that can’t get anyone to respect the passing game. Nick Hill ran well, and the team barreled for 171 yards, but Connor Cook and Andrew Maxwell can’t hit their receivers on the move. The 12-of-24 part for the quarterbacks isn’t awful, but the 94 yards is a problem.
- Yeeeeeeeeeeesh. Michigan State’s defense is fantastic, but 6-of-26 passing for 66 yards of USF passing offense? Bobby Eveld might still be the best option, but Steven Bench deserves more of an honest shot. Outside of one big Marcus Shaw run, the ground game didn’t help the cause, either.
- But the defenses really were that good. DeDe Lattimore came up with 15 tackles for USF, and defensive end Shilique Calhoun came up with a classic for the Spartans.
- Considering the problems on offense, Michigan State punter Mike Sadler could be an MVP. He averaged 45.6 yards per kick and put four inside the 20, keeping USF pinned deep all day.

McNeese State 53, at South Florida 21, Aug. 31
Basically … In an utter disaster of a start to the Willie Taggart era, USF gave up 40 straight points after getting on the board first with an 80-yard Marcus Shaw touchdown run on the opening drive. MSU broke the game wide open in the second quarter with three touchdowns in less than five minutes, and then the defense put the nail in the coffin with a 76-yard pick size from Guy Morgan with 12 seconds to play in the first half.
- Uh oh. McNeese State? USF didn’t have any answers whatsoever once the floodgates opened up. The three turnovers were disastrous, and the lack of a long drive sped up the blowout. There were too many missed tackles and too many errors.
- There’s going to be a quarterback controversy/problem for the foreseeable future. Bobby Eveld completed 10-of-20 passes with two second half touchdowns, but the game was well out of hand. Matt Floyd had a disastrous day throwing two bad picks and completing just 9-of-20 throws.

Spring Analysis

Why To Get Excited … the Bulls have finally landed the proper successor to Jim Leavitt on the sidelines. Skip Holtz wound up being an unmitigated disaster in Tampa, but his ouster did open the door for the hiring of Willie Taggart, one of the rising stars of the coaching ranks. Taggart has brought instant excitement to USF, which had been missing for the past two seasons.

Why To Be Grouchy … there’s not a single returning all-star on the 2013 roster. The Bulls are noticeably thin at a number of positions, most notably behind center. B.J. Daniels was weekly crapshoot, but he also was a four-year starter. Senior Bobby Eveld and sophomore Matt Floyd have flubbed auditions, combining for three career touchdown passes and 12 picks.

The Number One Thing To Work On Is … creating more takeaways. There is so much for Taggart & Co. to work on during the offseason, but topping the list will be creating more short-field opportunities for the challenged offense. In 2012, USF had just nine takeaways, tied with New Mexico State for fewest in the FBS.

Team Concerns For 2013: New head coach Willie Taggart has to improve the team in just about all areas. First and foremost, the Bulls have to be better in turnover margin after giving it up 28 times and coming up with nine takeaways including two - both against Connecticut - interceptions. The offense died down the stretch scoring a grand total of 35 points in the final four games, while the defense got lit up by anyone who wanted to throw the ball down the field. The special teams could stand to be stronger after cranking out just 17.83 yards per try.

Non-Conference Games: McNeese State, at Michigan State, Florida Atlantic, Miami
Realistic Best Case Record: 9-3
Worst Case Record: 5-7
Likely Finish: 8-4

Pre-Preseason Projected Wins: McNeese State, Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, at Connecticut, at Houston, Memphis, SMU, at UCF

Pre-Preseason Projected Losses: at Michigan State, Miami, Louisville, at Rutgers

Schedule Analysis: The Bulls get a warm-up against McNeese State before a showdown at Michigan State. Win that, and all of a sudden things get interesting with three home games in a road and four in the next five with fantastic games in Tampa against Cincinnati, Louisville and Miami. Connecticut and Houston are the only two road games in a run of eight going from September 14th until Thanksgiving. However, closing out with a trip up the road to UCF and dealing with Rutgers in New Jersey in December will be harsh.

The 2013 Class Is Heavy On ... Defensive linemen. Willie Taggart has built up a nice class with several decent talents. The linebacking corps has a good one in JUCO transfer Rahmon Swain and prepsters Mitchell Wright and Nigel Harris. Corner Nate Godwin leads a deep class of defensive backs, but the D is getting the most star power on the front line with Derrick Calloway a potential anchor at tackle and 310-pound Deadrin Senat a big body for the interior. Mike Love needs to add more weight, but he'll turn into a good pass rusher. The offense wasn't ignored, especially on the line with three good guards led by Dominique Threatt and Cameron Ruff.

2012 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 72. That Class Was Heavy On ... The lines. Skip Holtz has the skill players in place after loading up over the last few years, and the defensive front was addressed heavily three years ago. Now the D could use a boost up front for down the road, while the offensive line has a depth issue that has to be addressed as soon as possible. Holtz is mining the JUCO ranks and is going outside of the state to bring in talent. 

2011 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 58. That Class Was Heavy On ... Receivers. The offensive line got a huge boost with Max Lang, Darrell Williams, and Boo Simon all good tackle prospects who should be the anchors up front in the next three years, and the defense got some help with Corian Hamilton and Chris Garye two strong safety prospects, but the stars of the class are at receiver with Andre Davis a local product who should become a special No. 1 target. Ruben Gonzalez and Alex Mut are also nice gets who’ll boost up the Skip Holtz passing attack.

2010 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 47. That Class Was Heavy On ... Skill players. Skip Holtz had roughly five minutes to work, but he still kept most of the key players Jim Leavitt originally pitched. Jamius Gunsby is a big, athletic playmaker of a quarterback who'll get a few years to develop, while Marcus Shaw and Tiger Powell are good looking speed backs who could find roles early on if JUCO transfer Michael Hayes and his 4.3 speed doesn't take over the workload. Jamaal Mantague and Deonte Welch might not be five-star receiver prospects, but they're going to be good. Defensively, JUCO transfer Claude Davis will be asked to step in right away and fill a gaping hole at one end, and top corner Terrence Mitchell will get a chance to see time in the rotation.

2009 CFN Recruiting Ranking: 25. That Class Was Heavy On ... The defensive line. Can you say epic haul? Jim Leavitt is retooling his defensive front on the fly, with a mix of talented ends and tackles from junior college, post-graduate schools, and high schools. George Selvie, Aaron Harris, and Terrell McClain won’t be around forever, so it was important to bring new reinforcements to ensure the success of the defense for the foreseeable future. DT Leslie Stirrups was supposed to be one of the cornerstones of the 2006 class, but is just now making it to Tampa after problems with grades.


 

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