2010 South Florida Preview
USF QB B.J. Daniels
USF QB B.J. Daniels
Posted May 18, 2010

After an interesting end to the Jim Leavitt era, South Florida will try to take another big step forward under Skip Holtz. Do the Bulls have enough firepower? Is B.J. Daniels ready to shine as the star of the O? Will the defense still be as nasty? Check out the 2010 CFN South Florida Preview.

USF Bulls

Preview 2010

- 2010 USF Preview | 2010 USF Offense
- 2010 USF Defense | 2010 USF Depth Chart
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By Richard Cirminiello

Head coach: Skip Holtz
First year
11th year overall: 72-50
Returning Lettermen
Off. 22, Def. 18, ST 2
Lettermen Lost: 17
Ten Best USF Players
1. QB B.J. Daniels, Soph.
2. C Sampson Genus, Sr.
3. DT Terrell McClain, Sr.
4. LB Sabbath Joseph, Sr.
5. CB Quenton Washington, Jr.
6. RB Moise Plancher, Sr.
7. LB Sam Barrington, Soph.
8. DE Craig Marshall, Sr.
9. WR Dontavia Bogan, Sr.
10. DT Keith McCaskill, Jr.
2010 Schedule

Sept. 4 Stony Brook
Sept. 11 at Florida
Sept. 18 OPEN DATE
Sept. 25 WKU
Oct. 2 Florida Atlantic
Oct. 9 Syracuse
Oct. 14 at West Virginia
Oct. 22 at Cincinnati
Nov. 3 Rutgers
Nov. 13 at Louisville
Nov. 20 Pitt
Nov. 27 at Miami
Dec. 4 Connecticut

Junior RB Joel Miller might not touch the ball all season. Yet, in a strange twist of fate, he could be the most influential South Florida player of 2010 and beyond.

Miller is the Bull who was allegedly struck by Jim Leavitt, leading to the eventual dismissal of the program's only head coach. In his place steps Skip Holtz, who many believe is the missing piece at a school that's reached a plateau in its evolution. As the founder of South Florida football, Leavitt will forever be an iconic figure around the campus, but after five consecutive mediocre bowl games and declining results in the Big East, the Bulls showed no signs of getting over the hump. In no uncertain terms, Holtz has been brought to Tampa to jump that hump.

Where Leavitt was quirky and unmistakably passionate about his muse, Holtz is a coach's coach, with a proven track record of elevating the teams he inherits. He can charm a crowd, is eloquent with the media, and can become a respected face of the program for many years to come. He was also one of the unheralded figures to get Connecticut to its current station in the FBS and led East Carolina to the last two Conference USA championships. He's a winner about to oversee more talent than he ever had in Storrs or Greenville, but can he win right away?

South Florida is one of the more enigmatic programs of 2010, lacking any slam-dunk all-stars, and taking its first steps without key fixtures, such as Leavitt, QB Matt Grothe, and DE George Selvie. Where are the leaders and what is the identity of these baby Bulls? Heck, you could argue sophomore QB B.J. Daniels is already the most valuable player at Raymond James Stadium, and he wasn't even a starter at this time last year.

Still, there's raw talent and endless athleticism for Holtz and his new staff to begin molding. Odds are the transformation doesn't happen overnight, but the professional coach and the prodigal program is a marriage that's going to benefit both sides before very long.

What to watch for on offense: A more stationary B.J. Daniels. Oh, the fleet-footed quarterback is still going to make use of his legs, but you can bank on it being far less frequent than last season. The new coaching staff is determined to make the sophomore into more of a pocket passer, partly because he's far too valuable to be taking 20-25 hits a game. How will he handle suppressing many of the instincts that got him to this place? When his first receiver is covered, he'll have to prove he can go through his progressions and resist the temptation to tuck it and take off.

What to watch for on defense: The new ends. Obviously, you don't get better by losing NFL-caliber players, like George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul. The key is to not become dramatically worse in the pass rush. Although South Florida may not have exact replicas of last year's starters, it does have a collection of gifted athletes waiting for their opportunity to also use Tampa as a pipeline to a big payday. Out of seniors Craig Marshall and David Bedford, hotshot redshirt freshman Ryne Giddins, and JUCO transfer Claude Davis, at least one has to become a weekly threat to collapse the pocket and harass the other team's quarterback.

The team will be far better if… it can find a way to avoid the second-half slump that's become an unfortunate part of its persona. South Florida had a penchant under Jim Leavitt for starting fast, raising expectations, and then tanking when the spotlight got a little brighter. Since 2004, the Bulls have gone a miserable 19-24 after Oct. 13, a trend that needs to be reversed if they're ever going to contend for a Big East championship and a spot in a BCS bowl game.

The Schedule: The Bulls have to go to Gainesville to play Florida and has to go to Miami to play the Hurricanes. That almost makes it forgivable to have Stony Brook, Western Kentucky, and Florida Atlantic. In Big East play, the Bulls have to go to West Virginia and Cincinnati in back-to-back weeks after starting out with four home games in the first five. From the start of November on, USF only has to leave the state of Florida once to face Louisville. In all, there are only three conference road games with only one after October 22nd. Basically, if the Bulls can somehow split against the Mountaineers and the Bearcats, the schedule won't give them any excuses to not be in the thick of the Big East title hunt until the end.

Best offensive player: Sophomore QB B.J. Daniels. The sophomore got an unexpected head start on his Bull career, taking over for injured starter Matt Grothe in September. He quickly established himself as one of the rising young stars at the position, leading the team in rushing and finishing a respectable 31st nationally in passing efficiency. He's a marvelous all-around physical talent, with a chance to become downright unstoppable once he becomes more consistent as a passer in the new system about to be installed.

Best defensive player: Senior DT Terrell McClain. This is a fluid situation that's subject to change once the season begins. A number of different Bulls are capable of eventually holding this honor, but as of right now, McClain is the closest thing to a sure-thing. A 6-3, 302-pound nose tackle entering his third season as a starter, he does a nice job in run defense and has the quickness to get penetration, chalking 12.5 career stops behind the line of scrimmage.

Key player to a successful season: Senior RB Moise Plancher. With Holtz now calling the shots, South Florida is aiming for more of a power running game that finally has a leading rusher that doesn't play quarterback. With the dismissal of presumed feature back Mike Ford in February, it'll now be up to Plancher to shoulder the load in his sixth year on campus. He had 581 yards a year ago, a level of output he's hoping to double this season.

The season will be a success if ... the Bulls move up in the Big East pecking order. The program had nearly as much talent as anyone in the league the past few seasons, yet struggled to escape the middle of the pack. After coming in fifth place last season and going 3-4 in league play, South Florida is bucking to move up a rung or two on the ladder, while nabbing enough wins to remain a part of the postseason parade. While upsets aren't required, remaining competitive with Florida in September and Miami in November could create an lot of in-state goodwill.

Key game: Nov. 3 vs. Rutgers. With road games at West Virginia on Oct. 14 and Cincinnati on Oct. 22, South Florida might be headed toward another second-half swoon this fall. Especially if they fall short against the Mountaineers and Bearcats, it'll be imperative for the Bulls to hold serve versus Rutgers in a Wednesday night game that'll be televised in front of a national audience. This will be one of those games that could dictate whether USF finishes above or below .500 in Big East play.

2009 Fun Stats:
- Average yards per catch: South Florida 15.1 – Opponents 11.3
- Second half scoring: South Florida 184 – Opponents 105
- Fourth down conversions: South Florida 71% - Opponents 24%

- 2010 USF Preview | 2010 USF Offense
- 2010 USF Defense | 2010 USF Depth Chart
- USF Previews  2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006