PRESENTED BY 669248957_logo

The big 2014 USF football preview: Taggart's Bulls move on from Year Zero

Joe Robbins

The 2013 season was a Year-Zero situation for Willie Taggart at USF. Almost nothing went well on the field, but with his system now in place and a great recruiting class coming to campus, the Bulls might be capable of turning things around quickly.

SB Nation 2014 College Football Countdown

Confused? Check out the advanced-stats glossary here.

1. Year 1: A complete failure

The offense never came around. The defense had a strange "one bad game for every two good ones" thing going on for much of the year. USF lost by 18 at home to FAU, 25 at Rutgers, 31 at home to Louisville, and, of course, 32 at home to McNeese State. USF fans argued about the definition of "rock bottom." Only brief bouts of competence in two games in October prevented a winless year.

For a program that went to six straight bowls from 2005-10 and had only twice won fewer than five games in a season in its FBS history, the 2013 South Florida season was a disaster in almost every possible way that a season could be a disaster. For head coach Willie Taggart, engineer of a quick, impressive turnaround at Western Kentucky and strong branch on the Harbaugh coaching tree, it's difficult to imagine how Year One could have gone much worse.

Year Zero, on the other hand...

2. Year 0: A rousing success

In a rebuilding project, I often refer to a coach's first year at a program as Year Zero, a season in which quick fixes aren't available and to lay down the foundation he wants, the coach more or less burns the building to the ground. (It's often burned down already.)

By the end of 2013, Taggart had installed a freshman quarterback, handed out starts to three sophomore offensive linemen and a freshman, and given major playing time to two freshmen and a sophomore in the secondary (with two other freshmen in the rotation). And despite the two-win season, when 2013 ended, Taggart went out and landed what was quite easily the best recruiting class in the AAC.

Entering Year One (technically Year Two, yes), USF and Taggart are in an odd situation. Because of experience and regression-to-the-mean odds alone, the Bulls should improve. But at the same time, recruiting has created a situation in which USF is supposed to improve quickly and dramatically. Recruiting successes create impatience when on-field successes don't follow, but how much can USF really expect to improve in one year?

There are plenty of examples of coaches needing a year to get established, then taking off. Taggart himself went 2-10 at WKU before winning 14 games in two seasons. George O'Leary at rival UCF went 0-11 in 2004, then won at least eight games in six of the next nine seasons. Lou Holtz famously went 0-11 at South Carolina in 1999, then won 17 games in 2000-01.

Quick turnarounds exist, and one could happen in Tampa. USF plays only two teams projected in the top 40, so the Bulls wouldn't have to put an elite product on the field to win quite a few games. The schedule cooperates if the talent coalesces. But there are obviously no guarantees, and what happens to recruiting if the Bulls go 2-10 again against a schedule that doesn't feature much elite talent, but does include nine games against teams projected to rank 74th or better?

It's going to be an interesting year at USF. The array of potential outcomes is enormous.

2013 Schedule & Results

Record: 2-10 | Adj. Record: 2-10 | Final F/+ Rk: 99
Date Opponent Opp. F/+ Rk Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L 5-gm Adj. Avg.
31-Aug McNeese State N/A 21-53 L 18.9 - 47.8 L
7-Sep at Michigan State 6 6-21 L 7.3 - 19.8 L
14-Sep Florida Atlantic 73 10-28 L 22.1 - 18.5 W
28-Sep Miami 36 21-49 L 17.6 - 34.3 L
5-Oct Cincinnati 64 26-20 W 20.5 - 21.2 L -11.1
12-Oct at Connecticut 93 13-10 W 9.8 - 25.8 L -8.5
26-Oct Louisville 12 3-34 L 17.0 - 29.1 L -8.4
31-Oct at Houston 46 23-35 L 21.0 - 38.6 L -12.7
16-Nov Memphis 83 10-23 L 30.1 - 29.4 W -9.2
23-Nov SMU 84 6-16 L 16.0 - 18.8 L -9.6
29-Nov at Central Florida 21 20-23 L 17.6 - 21.7 L -7.2
7-Dec at Rutgers 91 6-31 L 5.1 - 37.2 L -11.2
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk Spec. Tms. Rk
F/+ -20.5% 123 +1.6% 56 +1.6% 35
Points Per Game 13.8 122 28.6 74
Adj. Points Per Game 16.9 123 28.5 72

3. From start to finish

But seriously, USF was really bad last year. And whereas some young teams in transition start to figure things out after a rough start, there was no hot start or finish at USF in 2013; the Bulls were basically the same from start to finish.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 4 games): Opponent 30.1, USF 16.5 (minus-13.6)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Opponent 28.7, USF 17.1 (minus-10.6)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 4 games): Opponent 26.8, USF 17.2 (minus-9.6)

I mean, you can find improvement there if you squint hard enough, but not really. The offense only twice averaged even 5.0 yards per play, and while the defense wasn't in any way the problem (and did improve slightly), USF still allowed at least 6.3 yards per play four times and at least 5.0 seven times. USF just never had a chance in 2013. But hey, two wins is better than zero ...

Offense

FIVE FACTORS -- OFFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.11 79 IsoPPP+ 100.6 57
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 28.8% 125 Succ. Rt. + 76.5 123
FIELD POSITION Def. Avg. FP 34.4 124 Def. FP+ 94.4 111
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 2.6 123 Redzone S&P+ 74.0 119
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 23.2 ACTUAL 28 +4.8
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 123 117 124 122
RUSHING 120 111 121 110
PASSING 110 118 119 116
Standard Downs 118 125 59
Passing Downs 107 113 77
Q1 Rk 120 1st Down Rk 117
Q2 Rk 116 2nd Down Rk 117
Q3 Rk 98 3rd Down Rk 110
Q4 Rk 113

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2014 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards TD INT Comp
Rate
Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
Mike White 6'4, 186 So. 3 stars (5.5) 93 175 1083 3 9 53.1% 10 5.4% 5.5
Bobby Eveld 38 96 455 2 2 39.6% 11 10.3% 3.6
Steven Bench 6'2, 208 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 26 64 392 2 3 40.6% 8 11.1% 4.6
Quinton Flowers 6'0, 210 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

4. Let's just pretend last year didn't happen and just take stock

These previews feature all sorts of statistics, offensive and defensive (and special teams!), from the previous season. For USF's sake, let's ignore most of the offensive numbers. They're not pretty. USF was able to rip off occasional big plays, but any positive effect was negated by a mountain of three-and-outs and negative plays.

(Be honest: You ignore most of the numbers anyway.)

So let's take stock. USF got three-star quarterback Mike White quite a bit of playing time in 2013; he overtook ineffective Bobby Eveld and beat out Penn State transfer Steven Bench, and while his completions didn't really go very far (11.6 yards per completion, which isn't awful if your completion rate is about 65 percent), he was the only USF quarterback who managed to complete even 50 percent of his passes or keep his sack rate under 10 percent. He had a massive interceptions problem, but he was probably still the shiniest turd of the bunch.

White was also a freshman and almost helped to engineer an upset of UCF. (The Bulls led, 20-16, with under five minutes remaining before a UCF score and a White interception finished them off.) So despite the stat line, we'll put him on the assets list. Then again, he might not even be the starter this year. Bench had a hell of a spring.

OK, so what other assets might offensive coordinator Paul Wulff have to work with in 2014? We'll talk about star wideout Andre Davis in a moment, but he's great. Sophomore running back Darius Tice showed some potential explosiveness last year. Tight end Mike McFarland averaged almost 8.0 yards per target, and there are all sorts of other interesting tight ends on the roster (which certainly fits the grind-it-out offense Taggart was successful with at WKU). The line returns seven players with starting experience, including three-year starting tackle Quinterrius Eatmon and two-year starting center Austin Reiter. And they could start guards named Brynjar and Thor (with players named Max, Mak, and Kofi coming off the bench), which is fun.

And there are all sorts of three- and four-star freshmen and redshirt freshmen who could impact the rotation.

In a vacuum, that's quite a hefty list of assets. Now they have to actually be assets.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards TD Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
Opp.
Rate
Marcus Shaw RB 156 765 3 4.9 7.6 29.5%
Michael Pierre RB 5'10, 202 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 41 114 0 2.8 3.2 19.5%
Willie Davis RB 39 139 0 3.6 2.8 25.6%
Darius Tice RB 5'10, 198 So. 2 stars (5.4) 35 141 0 4.0 5.3 28.6%
Bobby Eveld QB 18 49 0 2.7 3.4 33.3%
Steven Bench QB 6'2, 208 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 15 44 0 2.9 1.9 20.0%
Chris Dunkley WR 6'0, 180 Sr. 4 stars (5.9) 5 53 1 10.6 8.8 60.0%
Mike White QB 6'4, 186 So. 3 stars (5.5) 4 20 0 5.0 8.5 25.0%
Kennard Swanson FB 6'0, 245 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Sta'fon McCray RB 5'11, 212 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
D'Ernest Johnson RB 5'10, 180 Fr. 4 stars (5.8)
Marlon Mack RB 6'0, 195 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Target
Rate
%SD Yds/
Target
NEY Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Andre Davis WR-X 6'1, 202 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 109 49 735 45.0% 33.5% 47.7% 6.7 12 6.6 86.4
Mike McFarland TE 6'5, 244 Sr. 3 stars (5.7) 37 23 288 62.2% 11.4% 48.5% 7.8 4 8.0 33.9
Sean Price TE 6'3, 249 Jr. 4 stars (5.8) 27 21 185 77.8% 8.3% 45.5% 6.9 -47 6.5 21.7
Deonte Welch WR-Z 6'0, 206 Sr. 3 stars (5.5) 25 8 123 32.0% 7.7% 35.3% 4.9 -23 6.8 14.5
Derrick Hopkins WR 23 10 82 43.5% 7.1% 43.8% 3.6 -68 3.0 9.6
Chris Dunkley WR-Z 6'0, 180 Sr. 4 stars (5.9) 22 7 87 31.8% 6.8% 55.0% 4.0 -42 3.3 10.2
Marcus Shaw RB 20 14 115 70.0% 6.2% 45.0% 5.8 -48 5.6 13.5
Willie Davis RB 15 7 51 46.7% 4.6% 50.0% 3.4 -50 3.1 6.0
Stephen Bravo-Brown WR 14 7 121 50.0% 4.3% 22.2% 8.6 24 2.1 14.2
Ruben Gonzalez WR 6'3, 199 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 11 5 71 45.5% 3.4% 0.0% 6.5 -2 3.9 8.3
Ryan Eppes FB 11 8 76 72.7% 3.4% 54.5% 6.9 -15 6.9 8.9
Rodney Adams WR 6'1, 180 So. 3 stars (5.7)
Alex Mut WR 6'3, 190 So. 3 stars (5.6)
Guito Ervilus TE 6'4, 221 So. 3 stars (5.6)
Zach Benjamin WR 6'4, 194 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)
Marlon Pope TE 6'4, 265 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)
Ryeshene Bronson WR 6'3, 180 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)
Tyre McCants WR 5'11, 200 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)

5. Degree of difficulty

Andre Davis isn't a particularly efficient receiver. On a better (but not great) offense in 2012, he still only managed a 54-percent catch rate. But in 2013, he was officially one of two big-play threats for the feckless USF offense.

Marcus Shaw was an explosive, unfortunate running back last season -- if he saw the open field, he did damage, but he seemingly went weeks without seeing the open field -- and of the five USF players to catch 10 or more passes, only Davis averaged better than 12.5 yards per catch. (McFarland averaged 12.5, and the other three averaged 8.5.) He had 134 of USF's 311 receiving yards against Houston, 110 of 198 (!) against Memphis, 113 of 217 against SMU, and 87 of 211 against UCF. If he can get any help whatsoever from fellow wideouts, he could put up some fantastic, if still inefficient, numbers. USF has a wealth of tight ends who might play a productive role, but someone else will be needed to stretch the defense out, especially in Shaw's absence.

Offensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 88.9 2.37 2.04 27.3% 57.9% 22.3% 77.9 9.0% 6.6%
Rank 106 122 125 126 110 110 97 119 60
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals Career Starts Honors/Notes
Quinterrius Eatmon RT 6'6, 311 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 35
Austin Reiter C 6'3, 273 Sr. 2 stars (5.2) 24
Darrell Williams LT 6'5, 287 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 17
Brynjar Gudmundsson LG 6'4, 305 Jr. 2 stars (5.4) 13
Dominique Threatt RG 6'1, 310 So. 3 stars (5.6) 6
Thor Jozwiak RG 6'4, 300 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 5
Steven Jacques RG 4
Lawrence Martin RG 3
Max Lang LT 6'5, 274 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 1
Jake Kaufman LT 6'9, 313 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 0
Steven Jacques LG 0
Kofi Amichia C 6'4, 265 So. 3 stars (5.6) 0
Mak Djulbegovic RT 6'5, 289 Jr. NR 0
Kameron Davis OL 6'5, 258 So. 3 stars (5.7) 0
Jeremi Hall OL 6'5, 340 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7)
Cameron Ruff OL 6'3, 307 RSFr. 3 stars (5.5)

Defense

FIVE FACTORS -- DEFENSE
Raw Category Rk Opp. Adj. Category Rk
EXPLOSIVENESS IsoPPP 1.10 46 IsoPPP+ 107.2 32
EFFICIENCY Succ. Rt. 43.4% 78 Succ. Rt. + 95.6 74
FIELD POSITION Off. Avg. FP 26.5 114 Off. FP+ 97.5 88
FINISHING DRIVES Pts. Per Trip in 40 3.9 42 Redzone S&P+ 82.2 113
TURNOVERS EXPECTED 19.3 ACTUAL 25.0 +5.7
Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 21 52 74 45
RUSHING 28 68 84 94
PASSING 26 52 61 11
Standard Downs 81 84 65
Passing Downs 24 40 6
Q1 Rk 66 1st Down Rk 87
Q2 Rk 102 2nd Down Rk 44
Q3 Rk 25 3rd Down Rk 40
Q4 Rk 37

6. A waste of a decent defense

There were some glitches along the way, and there were occasional issues on standard downs, but USF's defense deserved a better fate in 2013. Powered by a very good line, USF ranked a solid 56th in Def. F+.

It's hard to know what to expect from the D in 2014, however. The line was decimated by attrition, longtime linebacker stalwart DeDe Lattimore is gone, and half of the two deep has been skimmed off in the secondary. The offense will improve, simply from an "It can't get worse" perspective, but that could simply offset regression on the other side of the ball. Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is shifting to more of a 3-4 alignment in 2014, and lord knows he has a wealth of young, three- and four-star options to fill holes. But while youth in 2014 could mean great things for 2015 and beyond, it might not be that great for 2014.

Defensive Line

Category Adj.
Line Yds
Std.
Downs
LY/carry
Pass.
Downs
LY/carry
Opp.
Rate
Power
Success
Rate
Stuff
Rate
Adj.
Sack Rate
Std.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Pass.
Downs
Sack Rt.
Team 111.8 2.50 2.65 41.2% 57.6% 28.6% 99 4.6% 7.5%
Rank 26 12 15 85 15 2 62 56 51
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Tevin Mims DE 10 30.0 4.9% 6.0 1.5 0 0 0 0
Elkino Watson DT 6'2, 286 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 11 23.0 3.7% 9.0 1.5 0 0 0 0
Aaron Lynch DE 12 23.0 3.7% 11.5 5.0 0 1 0 1
Ryne Giddins DE 12 20.5 3.3% 10.0 4.0 0 0 2 0
Luke Sager DT 12 20.0 3.3% 11.5 3.0 0 0 0 0
Todd Chandler DT 6'0, 317 Sr. 4 stars (5.8) 12 19.5 3.2% 5.5 0.0 0 0 0 0
Julius Forte DE 11 14.0 2.3% 4.0 3.0 1 1 2 0
James Hamilton DT 6'2, 308 Jr. 3 stars (5.7) 12 14.0 2.3% 5.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Derrick Calloway DT 6'2, 328 So. 4 stars (5.8) 6 3.0 0.5% 2.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Eric Lee DE 6'3, 257 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)
Deadrin Senat DT 6'1, 318 RSFr. 3 stars (5.7)
Mike Love DE 6'4, 242 RSFr. 3 stars (5.6)
Demetrius Hill DE 6'3, 255 Jr. 3 stars (5.6)
Rohan Blackwood DE 6'5, 220 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
Eric Mayes DE 6'5, 240 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

7. Lose a bunch of linemen? Play fewer linemen!

One way to offset losses in the front four is to make it a front three. With ends Tevin Mims, Aaron Lynch, Ryne Giddins, and Julius Forte (combined: 31.5 tackles for loss, 13.5 sacks) all gone, along with play-making tackle Luke Sager, Bresnahan will be looking to supplement tackle Elkino Watson with some newbies. Most of the promising players up front are over 300 pounds (in some cases, well over 300 pounds), so the Bulls should have the size requisite for an effective 3-4. We'll see if there's actual play-making ability to go with the girth.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
DeDe Lattimore MIKE


12 78.5 12.8% 5.5 2.0 1 3 4 1
Reshard Cliett SAM 6'2, 220 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 11 46.0 7.5% 7.0 1.0 0 3 0 0
Nigel Harris WILL 6'0, 190 So. 3 stars (5.6) 12 26.5 4.3% 2.5 0.0 0 1 1 0
Hans Louis MIKE 6'0, 215 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 11 16.5 2.7% 1.0 1.0 0 0 1 0
Rahmon Swain WILL 6'0, 208 Sr. 3 stars (5.6) 12 6.0 1.0% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Zack Bullock SAM 6'3, 213 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 11 5.0 0.8% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Tashon Whitehurst SAM 6'3, 198 Jr. 3 stars (5.6) 10 4.5 0.7% 0.0 0.0 0 0 0 0
Rahmon Swain LB 6'0, 208 Sr. 3 stars (5.6)
Corian Hamilton LB 6'0, 232 Jr. 3 stars (5.6)
Auggie Sanchez LB 6'2, 233 RSFr. 2 stars (5.4)
Jimmy Bayes LB 6'3, 185 Fr. 4 stars (5.8)
Vincent Jackson LB 6'2, 235 Fr. 3 stars (5.7)
Nick Holman LB 6'2, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
LaGrande Harley LB 6'1, 230 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Josh Black LB 6'2, 225 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Mark Joyce CS 10 41.5 6.8% 3.5 0 2 2 1 0
Nate Godwin OS 5'10, 196 So. 3 stars (5.6) 12 37.0 6.0% 1 0 1 3 0 0
Brandon Salinas CB 12 31.5 5.1% 1 0 0 3 0 0
Kenneth Durden CB 6'0, 173 Jr. 3 stars (5.5) 12 27.0 4.4% 0 0 1 1 1 1
Fidel Montgomery OS 12 26.0 4.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Johnny Ward CB 6'0, 163 So. 2 stars (5.3) 12 24.5 4.0% 2 0 1 5 1 0
JaQuez Jenkins OS 7 21.0 3.4% 2 0 0 1 0 0
Hassan Childs CS 6'0, 169 So. 3 stars (5.5) 6 9.0 1.5% 0 0 3 0 0 0
Torrel Saffold CS 5'11, 163 Sr. 2 stars (5.4) 11 9.0 1.5% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Lamar Robbins CB 6'2, 181 So. 4 stars (5.8) 11 8.5 1.4% 0 0 1 1 0 0
Trevon Griffin DB 6'0, 202 Sr. NR 12 2.0 0.3% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jalen Spencer DB 6'0, 178 So. 3 stars (5.6) 1 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Jamie Byrd DB 5'11, 190 Jr. 3 stars (5.5)
Kendall Sawyer CB 6'1, 180 Fr. 3 stars (5.6)
Tajee Fullwood CB 6'2, 175 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Deatrick Nichols CB 5'10, 180 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Devin Abraham CB 5'9, 175 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)
Mazzi Wilkins CB 6'0, 160 Fr. 3 stars (5.5)

8. Options

Without Lattimore and safety Mark Joyce, USF is tasked with replacing its steadiest, most interesting back-seven players. But Bresnahan has options upon options. Senior linebacker Reshard Cliett appears to be a keeper, and sophomore defensive backs Nate Godwin, Johnny Ward, Hassan Childs, and Lamar Robbins combined for six interceptions and nine break-ups last year. Redshirt freshman Auggie Sanchez had a breakout spring, and a whopping 10 members of the 2014 recruiting class were three- or four-star linebackers and defensive backs.

Again, there might be too many losses here to avoid regression in 2014, but there's no question that there's potential for excitement here in the future.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Mattias Ciabatti 6'0, 184 Jr. 73 40.2 7 20 20 54.8%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB OOB TB%
Marvin Kloss 6'0, 198 Sr. 43 61.8 15 1 34.9%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2014
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Marvin Kloss 6'0, 198 Sr. 15-15 7-7 100.0% 11-16 68.8%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2014
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Chris Dunkley KR 6'0, 180 Sr. 18 22.6 0
Derrick Hopkins KR 14 21.3 0
Kenneth Durden PR 6'0, 173 Jr. 9 7.1 0
Chris Dunkley PR 6'0, 180 Sr. 4 24.3 1
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 35
Field Goal Efficiency 5
Punt Return Efficiency 40
Kick Return Efficiency 94
Punt Efficiency 23
Kickoff Efficiency 99
Opponents' Field Goal Efficiency 2

9. Hail Kloss

When you're starved for points, the value of your kicker gets magnified. You need points whenever you can possibly get them, and Kloss made 11 of 16 field goals of 40 or more yards. No college kicker should be relied on to this degree, but Kloss passed most tests and didn't miss a kick (or PAT) under 40 yards all season. Hopefully he's kicking more PATs and fewer 51-yarders in 2014.

In all, like the defense, the special teams unit deserved better. Kick coverage was a bit of an issue, but there weren't enough kickoffs for that to be costly. Mattias Ciabatti is a good punter, and Chris Dunkley has solid return potential, especially on punts. If the offense cuts downs on three-and-outs, USF should be a pretty good field position team.

2014 Schedule & Projection Factors

2014 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
30-Aug Western Carolina NR
6-Sep Maryland 56
13-Sep N.C. State 68
19-Sep Connecticut 86
27-Sep at Wisconsin 19
11-Oct East Carolina 72
18-Oct at Tulsa 64
24-Oct at Cincinnati 54
1-Nov Houston 41
15-Nov at SMU 74
22-Nov at Memphis 95
28-Nov Central Florida 24
Five-Year F/+ Rk -1.4% (62)
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 46
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -3 / -4.0
TO Luck/Game +0.4
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 15 (9, 6)

10. How quickly can this turn around?

USF really is a mystery in 2014. One can see how the offense might show strong second-year improvement, and while the defense is far less experienced, it has a ton of potential and will have even more in the future.

Still ... USF ranked 99th overall in the F/+ rankings last year. Massive improvement is on the table, but modest improvement is always more likely. What happens if USF climbs back up into the 70s? It all depends on the start. USF's schedule is odd, with the first four games all at home (three against ACC/AAC teams), followed by five of seven on the road. USF was worse than Maryland (by quite a bit), NC State and UConn (by a little) in 2013, but all three of those games are winnable. Start 4-0, and the Bulls should have enough opportunities to find wins five and six. Start 2-2, and you're almost certainly looking at a fourth straight year without a bowl.

Recruiting is about the future, and at the moment it's pretty easy to see a bright future for Willie Taggart at USF. But he won't get too many free-pass recruiting classes; the wins will have to follow within the next couple of years, or things get dimmer in a hurry.

More from SBNation.com

In This Article

Teams
Players
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior users will need to choose a permanent username, along with a new password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

I already have a Vox Media account!

Verify Vox Media account

Please login to your Vox Media account. This account will be linked to your previously existing Eater account.

Please choose a new SB Nation username and password

As part of the new SB Nation launch, prior MT authors will need to choose a new username and password.

Your username will be used to login to SB Nation going forward.

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Join SBNation.com

You must be a member of SBNation.com to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at SBNation.com. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.