2010 South Florida Preview - Offense
South Florida C Samson Genus
CollegeFootballNews.com 2010 Preview - South Florida Bulls Offense
Preview 2010 - Offense
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What You Need To Know: Consistent with the hiring of a new staff, the South Florida offense is about to undergo some serious changes. Todd Fitch—the Bulls' third coordinator in three years—is installing an attack that'll scrap the four-wide sets and shotgun formations in favor of a more conservative system that features a heavy dose of north-south running. And don't rule out some Wildcat looks, which Fitch and Skip Holtz employed while at East Carolina. One constant will be exciting sophomore QB B.J. Daniels, who showed flashes of multi-dimensional brilliance after Matt Grothe was lost for the year. He has a good support cast, led by RB Moise Plancher and WR Dontavia Bogan, but it's a veteran-laden offensive line, which should be his biggest ally in 2010.
Star of the offense: Sophomore QB B.J. Daniels
Passing: B.J. Daniels
122-227, 1,983 yds, 14 TDs, 9 INTs
Rushing: B.J. Daniels
175 carries, 772 yds, 9 TDs
Receiving: A.J. Love
26 catches, 489 yds, 4 TDs
Player that has to step up and become a star: Senior RB Moise Plancher
Unsung star on the rise: Sophomore WR Sterling Griffin
Best pro prospect: Senior C Sampson Genus
Top three all-star candidates: 1) Genus, 2) Daniels, 3) Senior WR Dontavia Bogan
Strength of the offense: Dual-threat behind center, playmaking receivers, veteran offensive line, third down conversions, red zone scoring
Weakness of the offense: Lack of big plays from the backs, pass protection, turnovers
Projected Starter: Sophomore B.J. Daniels was always considered the future at the position, but no one figured that future would begin in 2009. After Matt Grothe was lost for the year in September, Daniels took over in the final 10 games, finishing 122-of-227 for 1,983 yards, 14 touchdowns, and nine interceptions. Oh, he also channeled a young Donovan McNabb, rumbling for a team-high 772 yards and nine touchdowns on 175 carries. One of the team's best all-around athletes, the 6-1, 210-pound also has a much stronger arm than his predecessor and is poised beyond his years. He's the franchise in Tampa for the next three seasons.
Projected Top Reserves: With Grothe graduating and the possibility of Evan Landi sliding over to wide receiver full-time, 6-1, 185-pound sophomore Ryan Eppeshas a shot to become the backup. A former walk-on from Largo (Fla.) High School, he's your typical, scrappy Bull quarterback, who can tuck it and run for the sticks if needed.
Unless Landi shifts back behind center at some point, incoming freshman Jamius Gunsby will have a shot at competing for No. 2 as soon as he steps foot on campus. Pursued by SEC, Big Ten, and the ACC, the 6-4, 220-pound is a unique physical talent, with the athleticism to someday succeed Daniels behind center.
Watch Out For .... less running out of Daniels. Hey, he can rush for 1,000 yards if the Bulls wanted him to, but the staff would prefer he take less hits and become more of a drop-back passer. Oh, he'll bolt when necessary and on some designed plays, but he won't leave the pocket 175 times, like a year ago.
Strength: Dual-threat potential. Sure, Daniels has lots of room for growth as a passer, but when he breaks from the pocket, he's like a 210-pound tailback jetting through defenses. Even if the Bulls utilize his feet a little less in 2010, the mere threat of him running is like a weapon that has to be monitored at all times.
Weakness: Depth. As it stands now, the backup is a walk-on with zero experience and the third-stringer has yet to arrive on campus. It's no wonder that South Florida plans to do whatever is necessary to keep Daniels in one piece. If he goes down, there's a real good chance that the entire season is sunk.
Outlook: Grothe's injury wound up being a gift for a program that probably wasn't going to win more than eight or nine games even if he was available. Now, instead of having to break in Daniels, South Florida is in a position to fine-tune him and help bring him to another level as a passer. Developing Gunsby will be another priority, as the Bulls look to bolster their non-existent depth on the fly.
Projected Starters: This was supposed to be a huge year for Mike Ford, but he was booted from the program in February. It's a good thing 5-9, 204-pound senior Moise Plancher was granted an additional season of eligibility by the NCAA. Last year's starter and leading rusher among the backs, he went for 581 yards and five scores on 129 carries. While no gamebreaker, he's a veteran leader and does a lot of little things well, like always driving for extra yards and picking up the blitz on passing downs.
The new staff plans to make more use of the fullback, which should mean increased snaps for 6-0, 233-pound senior Richard Kelly. A decent blocker, he does a number of things well, including catching the ball and toting it in short yardage. While he's been used sparingly, that could change in the fall.
Projected Top Reserves: Following a good offseason, 5-10, 198-pound sophomore Demetris Murray is bucking for the top job off the bench. He got a taste of action a year ago, carrying 14 times for 77 yards, and has the toughness and strong lower body to be effective between the tackles.
Pushing Murray for snaps will be 5-9, 188-pound redshirt freshman Bradley Battles, who used his first season on campus to get a little stronger and better acclimated to the game. Though not very big, he has a physical running style and the quickness to make people miss, a combination that's going to earn him opportunities.
Watch Out For .... Plancher to embrace the feature back role. In the past, he had Ford over his shoulder and occasional injury problems to shake. With Ford and the bumps and bruises now gone, he should flourish in an offense that'll lean more on the backs and receivers than in the past.
Strength: Toughness. Plancher, Murray, and Battles may not form the most physically-imposing trio, but all three have the strong bases needed to bounce off tacklers and pick up yards after contact.
Weakness: Lack of game-breakers. When QB B.J. Daniels wasn't busting into the secondary, the Bulls didn't have anyone capable of snapping off big plays on the ground. They still don't. Plancher is more of a station-to-station runner, failing to deliver a run of more than 30 yards in 2009.
Outlook: Plancher is a serviceable back who won't hurt an offense, but also won't elevate it. With the sixth-year senior, you pretty much know what you're going to get on the ground. Representing the future, Murray and Battles will spend the fall trying to get the edge for 2011.
Projected Starters: An ACL tear to senior A.J. Love in the spring has opened the door at the "Z" receiver for 6-1, 180-pound sophomore Sterling Griffin, the rising star among the receivers. In his first season in the rotation, he quickly climbed the ladder and went on to make 14 catches for 265 yards and two scores. He has the top-end speed to get behind the secondary and has improved his fundamentals since last year.
Flanked out at "X" receiver will be 6-1, 188-pound senior Dontavia Bogan, a 10-game starter a year ago. Purely in terms of physical ability, he has all-conference potential, combining good size with a long, effortless gait. However, he hasn't quite put it all together, catching just 22 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns. The clock is ticking on his college career.
Although he hardly made an appearance in 2009, 6-4, 251-pound sophomore Jeff Hawkins is making a concerted push to become the starting tight end. He'll need to continue working on his in-line blocking, but has soft hands and just enough speed to become a valuable target in the passing game.
Projected Top Reserves: The staff wants to find ways to get the ball in the hands of 5-9, 160-pound sophomore Lindsey Lamar, including running the Wildcat . It wasn't going to happen in the backfield, so it moved him to just behind Love during the spring. Clocked in the 4.3 range, he's the type of athlete, who can take short passes, make one man miss, and keep running toward the end zone.
The veteran option at tight end will come from 6-5, 246-pound senior Andrew Ketchel, who has lettered in each of the last two years and started three games. Although he only has two career receptions, he has the size and the hands to be an effective pass-catcher if the need arises.
Watch Out For .... no Love? The senior was all set to become the go-to guy in this offense before getting injured in the spring. Recovery typically takes six months, but he's holding out hope that he can still make it back in time to play this season. Well-sized at 6-2 and 205 pounds, he has deceptive speed, runs clean routes, and has shown a knack for picking up yards after the catch. Health aside, the opportunity is there to turn 2010 into his own audition for pro scouts.
Strength: Yards after the catch. Together, the receivers averaged more than 17 yards a reception, possessing the smooth stride to get behind the defense. All three are the type of playmakers, who'll stretch a defense and help free up traffic for the underneath stuff.
Weakness: Tight end. It's a position that Skip Holtz likes to employ, but is Hawkins really the guy to produce on a consistent basis? Both he and Ketchel have limited experience and no proven track record at this level.
Outlook: The raw physical ability is there at wide receiver. Now it's up to the top three players to go out and produce on a consistent basis. It'll sure help Love, Bogan, and Griffin that they had almost an entire season and offseason to develop a rhythm with Daniels at quarterback.
Projected Starters: The offensive line will be the most experienced unit in Tampa. And it's not even close. Everyone is back from a group that was in a state of flux at this time last year. The hub of the front wall will be 6-1, 314-pound senior Sampson Genus, a former defensive lineman who was the All-Big East second team center in 2009. A quick study, he can dominate with his brute strength, while playing with ideal leverage and pad level.
One of the biggest surprises of 2009 was 6-4, 315-pound junior Jeremiah Warren, the only lineman to start every game. After sitting out the spring to deal with academic issues, he returned to contribute at both left tackle and left guard, where he's slated to line up this fall. A powerful blocker, he has the desired reach to keep rushers at arm's length on passing downs.
The bookend to Warren at right guard will be 6-4 and 294-pound junior Chaz Hine. A self-made, blue-collar former walk-on, he was rewarded for his effort with a dozen starts last season. One of the steadiest and smartest of the offensive lineman, he's spending the offseason trying to hold on to this spot.
Junior Jamar Bass paid dividends in his debut out of Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, starting five of the final six games. Now he's being asked to protect QB B.J. Daniels' blind side from left tackle. At 6-4 and 290 pounds, he has some of the best footwork among the offensive lineman, allowing him to get out of his stance and seal off speedy edge rushers.
Rounding out the line at right tackle will be 6-5, 290-pound senior Jacob Sims, who enters his third season as a starter. He's played just about every position for South Florida, making a successful ascent after arriving without a scholarship. A quality athlete for his size, he's started 19 games over the last two seasons.
Projected Top Reserves: The program's top tackle off the bench will be 6-7, 305-pound sophomore Mark Popek. In his first year, he played in 12 games and started five, earning a spot on the All-Big East Freshman team. Both big and strong, he has the long arms needed for pass protection and will be a valuable asset in the rotation.
This season, 6-2, 295-pound junior Kevin McCaskill will caddy for Genus at the pivot. Next season, he supplants him. A stocky interior blocker, with a solid bubble, he appeared in six games in 2009, starting the regular season finale at Connecticut when Genus was injured.
Watch Out For .... Genus to begin getting some Rimington Award recognition. The evolution of the senior at center has been remarkable, evolving into a force practically overnight. With a full year of work at the position now behind him, he'll be ever better prepared to dominate in his last season.
Strength: Experience. There's no way to underestimate the value of bringing back so many starters and letterwinners up front. The Bulls are gushing with experienced leaders, many of whom can play multiple positions. While never easy, an injury to a single player will not short-circuit this unit.
Weakness: Pass protection. Hey, sometimes all the experience in the world isn't going to keep quality pass-rushers out of the backfield. Now, the happy feet of B.J. Daniels in the pocket was a contributing factor, but South Florida can ill-afford to once again finish 108th nationally in sacks yielded.
Outlook: Last season was a time for the South Florida O-line to regroup. This season will be a time to reap the dividends. There's enough veteran talent and chemistry in these parts for the Bulls to harbor one of the Big East's top units and the most effective group of blockers in school history.
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