2009 South Florida Bulls Football Preview
2008 Record: (8-5, 2-5)
2008 Bowl: St. Petersburg Bowl vs. Memphis (W 41-14)
Coach: Jim Leavitt (87-52 at South Florida, 87-52 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Mike Canales
Defensive Coordinator: Joe Tresey
Other Key Returnees: S Nate Allen, WR Dontavia Bogan, RB Mike Ford, DT Aaron Harris, G Zach Hermann, WR A.J. Love, DT Terrell McClain, WR Carlton Mitchell, RB Moise Plancher, OT Jacob Sims, LB Kion Wilson
Key Losses: DE Jarriett Buie, OT Marc Dile, WR Marcus Edwards, S Louis Gachette, C Jake Griffin, TE Cedric Hill, G Matt Huners, WR Taurus Johnson, LB Tyrone McKenzie, LB Brouce Mompremier, CB Tyller Roberts, G Ryan Schmidt, S Carlton Williams
South Florida has gone to four consecutive bowl games and Coach Jim Leavitt hopes to make it five this year. The Bulls might not have enough firepower to win the Big East this year, but they should be in the mix for another trip to a bowl game thanks to defensive end George Selvie.
South Florida's Strengths:
Selvie struggled through 2008 due to injuries, but he still managed to tally 5.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles-for-loss. Despite the injury, Selvie still could have gone off to the NFL, but he is back for another year at USF and, if he can stay healthy, he can dominate the Big East. The interior of the line returns Aaron Harris and Terrell McClain and few teams in the conference will be as experienced and talented as South Florida’s front four. New coordinator Joe Tresey will have to find some new linebackers, but Kion Wilson is a good piece to build around. The secondary was decent most of the time and the return of free safety Nate Allen and corner Jerome Murphy should keep the decency going for another year.
South Florida's Weaknesses:
The offense is built around Matt Grothe and the quarterback has certainly paid his dues and turned into a dynamic signal caller who can make plays with his hands and feet. But at times the offense is nothing but Grothe. Running back Mike Ford was not very effective last season and Grothe ran the ball a lot more than Ford. Ford is now an upperclassman, which should help, but can he turn the offense into more than just Grothe? The absence of much of the offensive line, including center Jake Griffin, guard Matt Huners and tackle Marc Dile, will not make things any easier. Those three were very experienced players and will be missed. If the line cannot give space and time for Grothe and Ford, this offense will not be the best in the Big East again this year. If Grothe has time to make good decisions, he has plenty of options down field. Jessie Hester, Carlton Mitchell, A.J. Love and Dontavia Bogan are all capable receivers.
The Bottom Line for the USF Bulls:
USF has the skill players to win the Big East. The key will be the offensive line and how well they can protect the skill players. The defense should be good and has the potential to be great if Selvie is healthy and defensive coordinator Tresey can fill in a few holes. Most importantly for the defense is creating turnovers. The Bulls have athletes and a ball hawking mentality, but they rarely created turnovers last year. The offense, on the other hand, always created turnovers and both of those things have to change.
By Joel Welser
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