Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Looking at Game 1, University of South Florida Bulls

Who:  University of South Florida Bulls

When:  Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014

Where:  Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Fla.

Series history:  First meeting between the two teams.

Their conference:  The American Athletic Conference (AAC)

Their coach:  Willie Taggart (2-10 at South Florida, 18-30 overall) Taggart is in his second season at USF. Taggart came to USF after spending three seasons as head coach at his alma mater Western Kentucky, where he led a dramatic turnaround for the Hilltoppers.

Last year’s record:  2-10, 2-6 conference

How they got there:  South Florida started off the 2013 season with a 53-21 loss to a FCS team, McNeese State. The Bulls then beat both Cincinnati and Connecticut in back-to-back contests, but the rest of the season ended with 9 straight losses.  In 2014, the Bulls have been selected to finish 6th in the 11 team American Athletic Conference.

Offensive starters Returning/Lost:  10 / 1

Defensive starters Returning/Lost:  4 / 7

Scoring:  12.8 points per game
Rushing Offense:  88.7 yards per game
TDs rushing : 4 on the season
Passing Offense:  166.8 yards per game
TDs passing:   7 on the season
Total Offense:  255.6 yards per game
Fumbles-Lost:   22 - 12 lost
Penalties-Yards:  102 - for 8166 yards (48.9 ypg average)
On-side kicks:  1 - 3
3rd Down Conversions:  48 of 172  (28%)
4th Down Conversions:  5 of 16 (31%)
Field Goals - Attempts:  18 of 23
Red-Zone Scores:  14 of 19 (74%)
Red-Zone Touchdowns:  7 of 19 (37%)

Losses/Weaknesses:   While the offense does return 10 starters, it is an offense that rushed for only 89 years per game in 2013, and passed for only 167 yards per game. The Bulls fumbled 22 time, losing 12, and was penalized 102 time during the season. The Bulls converted only 48 of 172 third downs (28%) and reached the gold line only 27% when in the red-zone.  In 2013, USF's four starting quarterbacks threw just seven touchdowns, as well as, 16 interceptions. This season, it will probably come down to junior Steven Bench and sophomore Mike White. Bench completed just 40.6 percent of his passes, while White was slightly more efficient. However, White threw nine interceptions. The Bulls do have some decent wide receivers, Andre Davis caught 49 passes for 735 yards, which is quite a bit considering the team as a whole only passed for 2,002 yards all season long. The concerns on offense are not limited to quarterback, since running back Marcus Shaw is gone after tallying 756 yards on the ground. Michael Pierre, rushed for 114 yards and Darius Tice, totaled 141 yards on the ground, are the likely replacements for Shaw.

Key Losses - RB Marcus Shaw, LB DeDe Lattimore, DE Aaron Lynch, DE Ryne Giddins, S Mark Joyce

Strengths - Senior wide receiver Andre Davis, senior tight end Mike McFarland, senior wide receiver/punt returner Chris Dunkley and senior kicker Marvin Kloss were all named to CFPA watch lists for their respective positions.

Returning Leaders:
-Rushing:  Darius Tice, RB, 141 yards
-Passing:  Mike White, QB, 1,083 yards
-Receiving:  Andre Davis, WR, 735 yards
-Sacks:  Elkino Watson, DL, 1.5  sacks
-Interceptions:  Hassan Childs, DB, 3 interceptions

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