2008 South Florida Bulls Football Preview
2007 USF Record: (9-4, 4-3)
2007 Bowl: Sun Bowl vs. Oregon (L 21-56)
USF Head Coach: Jim Leavitt (79-47 at South Florida, 79-47 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Greg Gregory
Defensive Coordinator: Wally Burnham
Returning Leaders for USF:
Other Key Returnees for USF: RB Mike Ford, DT Aaron Harris, WR Jessie Hester, WR Taurus Johnson, LB Brouce Mompremier, RB Benjamin Williams, S Carlton Williams
Key Losses for USF: DT Richard Clebert, DT Woody George, CB Mike Jenkins, LB Ben Moffitt, CB Trae Williams, OT Walter Walker
After a 6-0 start last year, South Florida lost four of their last seven games, including a momentum killing slaughtering at the hands of Oregon in the Sun Bowl. With a majority of their top players returning and a programming that is only getting better and better with every passing year, the Bulls will be looking to take the next step and earn a berth to a BCS Bowl. However, the biggest problems will be getting over the disappointment of last year and adjusting to life as the hunted.
More 2008 Big East football previews:
South Florida's Strengths:
Matt Grothe is a dynamic quarterback who led the team in passing and rushing and reached the endzone 24 times one way or another. Grothe was not as efficient last year as a sophomore, but it became his team at that point too. In an effort to make the big plays and carry the team, his interception numbers ended up a little high. Certainly he has the physical tools to be a dominating quarterback and now that he is an upperclassman he will be expected to play a little smarter. With four starters back on the offensive line, Grothe will have plenty of time to find an open receiver or use his feet to create big plays. Carlton Mitchell, Jessie Hester and Taurus Johnson might not be the most dangerous receivers in the Big East, but at least there are options. Mitchell, a 6-4 sophomore, has the most potential to develop into the much needed go-to target.
South Florida's Weaknesses:
You cannot just simply replace cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams. Jenkins was one of the best corners in the nation and was a first round draft pick and Williams did not last past the fifth round. It might sound bad, but Tyller Roberts, Jerome Murphy and the USF coaching staff knew this was coming. Robert and Murphy will not be Jenkins and Williams any time soon, but they are formidable replacements. The other need is at running back. It is nice that Grothe can use his feet as well as his arm, but the quarterback really should not be leading the team in rushing for the last two years. Mike Ford showed plenty of potential as a freshman, rushing for nearly five yards per carry and 12 touchdowns. Senior Benjamin Williams gives the team another running threat, but one of the backs needs to help alleviate the pressure on Grothe.
The Bottom Line for the Bulls:
Speaking of pressure on quarterbacks, few players in the nation cause as much ruckus in the backfield as defensive end George Selvie. As a sophomore, Selvie registered 14.5 sacks and 31.5 tackles for loss. The young and underappreciated defensive line also returns Aaron Harris who gets plenty of opportunities to get into the backfield himself. Led by Selvie, the defense will be fine as long as the new corners are at least serviceable and the offense might lack big name playmakers outside of Grothe, but they will not for long.
2007 USF Bulls Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 185.00 (32nd in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 229.08 (56, 5)
Total Offense: 414.08 (43, 5)
Scoring Offense: 34.69 (21, 4)
Rushing Defense: 130.54 (34, 4)
Pass Defense: 212.08 (34, 5)
Total Defense: 342.62 (28, 4)
Scoring Defense: 23.38 (38, 5)
Turnover Margin: .69 (18, 4)
Sacks: 2.31 (41, 5)
Sacks Allowed: 2.15 (67, 5)
By Joel Welser
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