Preview 2009 - Offense
2009 USF Preview
2009 USF Defense
USF Depth Chart
2008 CFN USF Preview
2007 CFN USF Preview
need to know:
The revolving door spun again at offensive
coordinator, as Mike Canales was hired to replace
Greg Gregory. He inherits a lot issues and a stale
offense that struggled mightily to produce big
plays, despite having a fair amount of skill
position talent. He also inherited fourth-year
starting QB Matt Grothe, an enigma who can be
magical on one play and maddening on the next two.
The coach’s primary job will be to coach up his
signal-caller, guiding him to the most prolific
season of his Bull career. Forget the fact that
South Florida led the Big East in total offense and
finished second in scoring. It did most of its
damage against lesser opponents, while failing to
score more than 20 points in the final five regular
Passing: Matt Grothe
240-380, 2,911 yds, 18 TD, 14 INT
Rushing: Matt Grothe
146 carries, 591 yds, 4 TD
Receiving: Jessie Hester
54 catches, 579 yds, 3 TD
Star of the
offense: Junior QB Matt Grothe
Player that has to step up and become a star:
Junior RB Mike Ford
Unsung star on the rise: Junior
WR Dontavia Bogan
pro prospect: Ford
three all-star candidates: 1)
Grothe 2) Senior WR
Jessie Hester 3)
Strength of the
offense: Experience and versatility at quarterback, the
receivers, running back depth
Weakness of the offense:
Turnovers, lack of big plays, the offensive line, red zone
Matt Grothe is a living, breathing intangible. At 6-0
and 203 pounds, he is not a next-level quarterback, but does
possess many of the characteristics needed for the quarterback
position. He’s a tough, experienced gamer, who leads by example
and elevates the play of his teammates. While an average passer,
he’ll get the job done through the air, while really hurting
defenses by scrambling outside the pocket. A year ago, he went
240-of-380 for 2,911 yards, and 18 touchdowns, adding 591 yards
and four scores on the ground. However, he has also thrown
exactly 14 interceptions in each of the last three seasons, a
real drag on the offense that needs to be reversed.
Projected Top Reserves: Both backups are redshirt
freshmen, a particular concern since Grothe is so physical on
the move. The No. 2 job belongs to 6-1, 212-pound
B.J. Daniels, one of the best all-around athletes on the team. Also
a member of the basketball team, he can make something out of
nothing with his feet and has underrated arm strength. If he
continues to learn and master the finer points of the position,
he has a chance to be the quarterback of the future in Tampa.
Running third on the depth chart is 6-3, 214-pound
Evan Landi, last year’s offensive scout team player of the year.
Another versatile athlete at the position, he’s also a candidate
to play some wide receiver, defensive back, and be the holder on
kicks. He was so good throughout the spring, the coaches are
compelled to get him on the field in some capacity.
Watch Out For…
a more polished Grothe. He finished 2008 strong and enters this
season as a fourth-year starter. Coordinator Mike Canales is
comparing him to Phillip Rivers in terms of film study and
understanding the game. Hyperbole? Probably. Still, you get the
feeling he’s on the brink of his best season as a Bull.
Athleticism. Some programs would feel lucky to have Grothe,
Daniels, and Landi playing running back rather than quarterback.
They’re that good with their feet. Grothe has run for more than
2,000 yards in his career, and Daniels and Landi could easily
transfer their talent to another position.
Turnovers. In the Bulls’ five losses in 2008, Grothe threw four
touchdown passes and 11 interceptions, a recurring theme that
has to be addressed if the quarterback and the program are going
to reach a new level.
Outlook: Grothe is a really good college quarterback
who needs to be a great one if South Florida is to win its first
Big East championship. He’s a playmaker, to be sure, but he
needs to cut down on the mistakes and achieve a higher level of
consistency. Remaining durable is another must, considering the
inexperience of his understudies.
The Bulls have no feature back, relying on a deep stable of
runners to complement the scrambling of QB Matt Grothe. So much
more is expected from 6-2, 225-pound junior
Mike Ford, who only ran 102 times for 407 yards and
five touchdowns. In his defense, he battled a pair of ankle
injuries all year, preventing him from properly planting. When
healthy, he’s a bruising, north-south runner with the power and
leg drive to bowl over tacklers, especially in short-yardage
Mo Plancher has every
bit a claim to the starting job as Ford. As a three-game starter
a year ago, the 5-9, 200-pounder ran for 322 yards and six
touchdowns on only 69 carries. The most reliable of the backs,
he has great feet and change of direction, making people miss in
the open field. He’s also skilled at picking up the blitz, which
makes him a three-down option.
Projected Top Reserves:
At the end of last year, no back was playing better than 5-9,
205-pound junior Jamar
Taylor, a former Alabama commit. A tough back, who runs with
good pad level, he started a pair of games and finished with 300
yards and three scores on 62 carries. He’s behind Plancher for
now, but will have no problems sliding into the lineup if
One of the more unique backs on the roster is
junior Richard Kelly, who has only logged 24 carries in his first two
seasons. The biggest and strongest of the backs at 6-0 and 249
pounds, he always has excellent hands, giving the staff a lot of
options on how he can be used. He can block, carry the ball in
short yardage, or impersonate an H-back.
Out For… more throws to the backs. Coordinator Mike
Canales would like to get the backs more involved in the
passing, which is going to create more opportunities for
whichever players display good hands and a knack for picking up
yards after the catch.
Strength: Depth. From one to three, there’s almost no
drop-off in talent or experience. The Bulls will always have
fresh legs at the position, a real luxury in the Sunshine State,
and won’t feel it if one player is lost for an extended period
of game-breakers. Unless 4.2 burner
Aston Samuels gets in
the mix, the Bulls have a serious dearth of electricity in the
backfield. None of the returners had a run of more than 34 yards
in 2008, a trend that’s likely to continue this season.
time. Time for Ford to blossom into the player that so many SEC
schools had to have, and time for this deep stable of backs to
take some pressure off Grothe. While depth is always a good
thing, South Florida would benefit from one of these guys
emerging as a feature back, who warrants 20 touches a game.
With four of the Bulls’ top five receivers back in Tampa, the
program is on solid footing at the position. Senior
Jessie Hester led the team with 54 receptions for 579
yards and three touchdowns, growing into his role as one of the
veteran leaders of the offense. While he hasn’t shown a knack
for making the big play, he has great hands and is one of the
program’s most precise route runners.
player of this group is 6-4, 212-pound junior
Carlton Mitchell, a
unique combination of great size, good wheels, and the ability
to sky above defenders. In terms of the total physical package,
he has few peers on this team, but needs to fine-tune his
overall game. After breaking out as a freshman, his numbers
dipped as a sophomore to 28 receptions for 405 yards and a
One of the rising stars of this unit is 6-1,
185-pound junior Dontavia
Bogan, who has an All-Big East upside. A smooth athlete with
good speed, he glides effortlessly running routes and has very
soft hands. After lettering as a true freshman, he stepped up
his game last fall, catching 26 passes for 354 yards and a
Ketchel has the edge in the race to replace all-league tight
end Cedric Hill. A late-bloomer, his role expanded toward the
end of the season, culminating in a start in the bowl game. At
6-5 and 240 pounds, he’s a hard-to-miss target and the best
pass-catcher of the tight ends.
Projected Top Reserves:
Junior A.J. Love was
the only Bull receiver to start every game in 2008, catching 31
passes for 370 yards and two touchdowns. He missed spring and is
currently in a fight for the job at Z receiver, needing a big
summer to match last year’s playing time. A 6-2, 210-pounder, he
has the right combination of size and 4.4 speed to once again be
a key factor in the passing game.
Going stride for stride
with Love is 6-2, 185-pound junior
Ed Alcin. In fact, he may have passed him during the spring. A
gifted all-around athlete, he gets off the snap quickly and has
shown good ball skills during practice. He’s had just three
catches in his first two seasons, but he stands on the brink of
a breakout year in 2009.
Steady 6-3 and 242-pound senior
Ben Busbee will once
again be the backup at tight end. A veteran of 36 games and
eights starts, his 11 career receptions are proof that he’s used
more for his blocking than his hands.
Watch Out For…
Bogan. There are flashing signs that this junior is about ready
to become the most dynamic playmaker among the receivers. He’s a
cut above athletically, and unlike a Mitchell, he’s rapidly
becoming a polished receiver as well.
Strength: Athleticism. Just about all of the receivers
originate from the state of Florida, so the speed and burst is
pretty much built in. As a group, these Bulls all move well,
jump high, and can make defenders miss in the open field.
Production. Although the raw talent is there, the production
doesn’t always match it. The receivers still lack consistency
and have too many off games. Plus, where are the big plays?
Yeah, the quarterback shares some of the blame, but there’s no
excuse for not having a single play greater than 50 yards out of
this group in 2008.
Outlook: Much like the running backs, USF would like to
get more out of a collection of receivers that too often looks
better in uniform than on film. Talents like Hester, Mitchell,
Bogan, and Alcin are thoroughbreds, who need to break out of the
stable this fall.
It’s makeover time for a South Florida offensive line that’ll be
looking to replace four starters and a pair of all-conference
performers. The line will be built around a couple of veterans
on the right side, 6-3, 304-pound junior G
Zach Hermann and 6-5,
285-pound junior T Jacob
Sims. Hermann is a tough, physical throwback, bringing 18
starts into his third season. He’s especially effective as a run
blocker, doing whatever is necessary to spring his teammates for
A rising blocker on this unit, Sims has been
slowed in the offseason by finger surgery, which opened the door
for the competition. Once healthy, he’s expected to get back in
the hunt for the starting job he held 10 times in 2008. A
versatile athlete and former walk-on, he’s shown an ability to
play either left tackle or right guard, and could be shifted
left side? Hold your breath. It’s not that there isn’t upside,
rather no experience. The frontrunner to protect Matt Grothe’s
blindside is 6-4, 270-pound redshirt freshman
Jatavious Jackson. A
key recruit from the 2008 class, he has the footwork and
athletic ability to eventually be the anchor of this unit.
Today, however, he has a lot to learn and some weight to add,
concerns that could impact the entire offense.
will be 6-4, 292-pound sophomore
Chaz Hine, a
little-used reserve from a year ago. A self-made, blue-collar
worker, he played well enough throughout the spring to lock down
this job. He’s added weight and gotten stronger in the offseason
in anticipation of this promotion.
The difficult job of
replacing Jake Griffin at center belongs to 6-2, 304-pound
sophomore Kevin McCaskill.
Another one of the program’s heralded recruits from a couple
years back, he’s just now starting to acclimate to his role on
the line. A squat lineman with a solid base, he moves well for a
Projected Top Reserves: While Sims rehabbed this spring,
redshirt freshman Mark Popek got a lot of reps with the first-stringers. And held up
rather well. At 6-7 and 305 pounds, he certainly looked the part
for a left tackle. He’s big and strong with a long reach, but
needs to show the staff that he can bring it on every down.
Pushing Jackson at left tackle is 6-4, 314-pound sophomore
Jeremiah Warren, who played in seven games and lettered in his first
season. He has a high ceiling with the program, provided he can
maintain his conditioning and his grades. He sat out the spring
to concentrate on academics.
If McCaskill falters, the
job at center could go to 6-1, 308-pound junior
Sampson Genus, a
five-game starter on the
defensive line last season. Very strong and physical at the
point of attack, he shows upside as a run blocker once he gets
Watch Out For… Sims to be on the move. The most
versatile player on the unit, he gives a lot of options to the
coaching staff. If the Bulls plan to get their five best players
on the field, he’s capable of shifting positions to open up a
slot for another lineman.
blocking. Straight-ahead, no frills blocking is what this unit
does best. It isn’t especially fancy or flush with star power,
but it can move a pile and open up running lanes for Grothe and
The left side. A strength just one year ago, South Florida is
eyeing the left side of the line as a blinking liability.
Jackson and Hine have virtually no experience at this level, and
their backups are equally green.
peaking as a unit a year ago, the line is bracing itself for a
steep decline. There isn’t a single senior—or bona fide
all-star—on the roster, which bodes well for 2010 and beyond,
but will cause headaches and stalled drives in 2009.