2009 CFN South Florida Preview
South Florida DE George Selvie
Is South Florida in rebuilding mode, or are the athletes in place to come up with a surprising year and a Big East title? The hot team of two years ago has work to do, but as Richard Cirminiello points out, this Bulls will be dangerous and worth watching. Check out the CFN 2009 USF preview.
2009 USF Preview
2009 USF Defense
USF Depth Chart
2008 CFN USF Preview
2007 CFN USF Preview
Interested in blogging about USF
Head coach: Jim Leavitt
13h season: 87-52
Returning Lettermen: 40
Lettermen Lost: 20
Best USF Players
1. DE George Selvie, Sr.
2. QB Matt Grothe, Sr.
3. DT Terrell McClain, Jr.
4. CB Jerome Murphy, Sr.
LB Kion Wilson, Sr.
6. WR Jessie Hester, Sr.
7. FS Nate
8. RB Mike Ford, Jr.
9. DE Aaron Harris, Sr.
10. OG Zach Hermann, Jr.
9/12 at West. Kentucky
9/19 Charleston Southern
9/26 at Florida State
10/3 at Syracuse
10/10 OPEN DATE
10/24 at Pitt
10/30 West Virginia
11/7 OPEN DATE
11/12 at Rutgers
12/5 at Connecticut
UT Martin W 56-7
at UCF W 31-24 OT
9/12 Kansas W 37-34
at FIU W 17-9
9/27 at NC St W 41-10
Pitt L 26-21
10/11 OPEN DATE
Syracuse W 45-13
10/25 at Louisville L 24-20
10/30 at Cincinnati L 24-10
11/8 OPEN DATE
Rutgers L 49-16
11/29 OPEN DATE
12/6 at West Virginia L 13-7
St. Petersburg Bowl
12/20 Memphis W 41-14
Now that South Florida has hit
a wall and a little bit of adversity, where does it go from here?
Best offensive player:
Senior QB Matt Grothe. Forget the fact that Grothe doesn’t project well
at the next level. All South Florida knows is that he’s a
multi-dimensional playmaker and one of the most experienced returning
quarterbacks in the country. Yes, he has to step up his game this fall
and cut down on the turnovers, but when he gets outside the pocket and
heads up field, he’ll drive defensive coordinators batty.
Maybe the neophyte program grew too quickly, rising to No. 2
nationally in the middle of 2007 because since then, it failed to
fulfill inflated expectations. There have been no Big East titles and a
pedestrian 10-9 record in the last 19 games with FBS opponents. In fact,
the Bulls slid all the way to sixth place in an eight-team league,
hardly the trajectory of one of the country’s fastest rising entities.
While South Florida is no doubt on solid footing, it’s fair to
wonder if Jim Leavitt, the excitable head coach, has reached a plateau
with the school. By all measures, the Bulls have the talent to match up
with any other Big East school, yet they’ve won just five of their last
13 league games. That’s a troubling statistic for a school that believes
it’s ready to graduate from December bowl invitations.
this year’s edition, too, appears capable of competing for a crown. The
best offensive player in school history, QB Matt Grothe, returns. So
does the best defensive player in school history, end George Selvie.
Sure, there are concerns, such as the offensive line, but the supporting
cast is solid and depth isn’t a major issue. South Florida is ready for
the next step in its evolution. Or is it? Another magicJack St.
Petersburg Bowl won’t kill the Bulls, but it sure will raise questions
about the direction that their headed.
What to watch for on offense:
The growth of Grothe. Every staff member in Tampa is labeling the
quarterback a new man, who’s finally become a better student of the
game. Let’s see it. For the last three years, he’s tended to rely
exclusively on his athletic ability, which has been at the root of many
of his mistakes. A more cerebral Grothe, however, would presumably make
better reads and fewer errors. You hope so if you’re a Bull because the
program can’t a fourth consecutive season with 14 interceptions.
What to watch for on defense:
The defensive line. George Selvie is the headliner, but he’s hardly a
solo act. Just about everyone is back from last season, which means
South Florida will be home to one of the nation’s nastiest front fours.
If opponents dedicate too many resources to No. 95, any number of Bulls,
including Terrell McClain and Aaron Harris, are capable of making them
suffer. South Florida will set the tone up front, making life so much
easier for the linebackers and defensive backs.
The team will be far better if…
it generates more big plays …on offense and defense. This was a major
problem last season, which prompted changes with both coordinators. On
offense, the Bulls were far too methodical, lacking the long ball in the
running or passing game. On defense, they had a hard time finishing
their sacks and were 97th nationally in takeaways. There are
way too many good athletes in Tampa for South Florida to remain so quiet
and passive on both sides of the ball.
The Bulls have a
three week preseason against Wofford, at Western Kentucky, and
Charleston Southern before finally starting off the real portion of the
season at Florida State. The showdown with the Seminoles, combined with
a late November date with Miami, could be the type of games that can
change around the program. While West Virginia and Cincinnati have to go
to Tampa, the Bulls have to go to Connecticut in the cold on December
5th. There are four Big East road games in all, but one is at Syracuse.
The Rutgers game in mid-November could be sneaky-tough weather-wise.
Best defensive player: Senior
DE George Selvie. Although Selvie had an off year based on where he put
the bar in 2007, he’s still one of the most disruptive forces off the
edge in the country. Playing with a sudden burst off the snap and
non-stop energy, he’s earned First Team All-Big East honors following
each of the last two seasons. With the chance of being a first round
pick in the 2010 NFL Draft hanging out there, he has more motivation
than ever before to toy with opposing tackles.
Key players to a
successful season: The offensive line. This is the biggest spoke in
the wheel for the program heading into 2009. Four starters are gone from
last season, and in their place are a slew of unproven underclassmen.
These guys have a shot to be real good, but that might not happen until
2010 or 2011. For the time being, it’ll be a patchwork unit and a
potential liability throughout the year.
The season will
be a success if ... South Florida wins the Big East championship.
Does anyone clearly have more talent than the Bulls? Defending champion
Cincinnati needs to rebuild its defense. West Virginia and Rutgers must
replace the best quarterback to ever play at either school. Syracuse and
Louisville don’t belong in the discussion. In other words, the Bulls
have as good a chance as anyone of playing in a BCS bowl game. Now,
they’ve got to just go out and get it done.
Key game: Oct. 30 vs. West
Virginia. Yeah, the Bulls have a couple of sexy games with Florida State
and Miami that’ll have national appeal, but winning the Big East trumps
winning any mythical state titles. This has become an interesting little
rivalry over the last four seasons, with the teams splitting the games.
While the outcome won’t decide the league championship, it could go a
long way toward that end.
2008 Fun Stats:
- Penalties: South
Florida 111 for 882 yards - Opponents 96 for 791 yards
yards per carry: South Florida 4.2 - Opponents 2.8
- First quarter
scoring: South Florida 108 - Opponents 54
Mountain West Peak Plays: Pumphrey Runs Free For San Diego State
The Aztecs win their third Mountain West game of the season. Watch how Donnel Pumphrey took advantage of the Hawaii defense, carrying the ball 25 times for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one unbelievable move to keep his knee from touching the ground.