2013 USF football's 10 things to know: Can you win with great lines and no QB?

US PRESSWIRE

Following his version of the Harbaugh Way, Willie Taggart created something out of nothing at Western Kentucky. Now he inherits a USF squad with potentially outstanding lines and serious question marks in the backfields. With competence at QB, the Bulls could win quite a few games this year. For more USF, visit Voodoo Five.

Confused? Check out the glossary here.

1. The Harbaugh Way

Jim Harbaugh certainly has plenty of skills (aside from perhaps some general social ones) -- quarterbacking, coaching, etc. But perhaps his most impressive talent is either in spotting or developing coaching talent.

When Stanford hired Harbaugh following the 2006 season, he put together a staff of hungry young coaches, knowing that the job was going to require boatloads of energy, recruiting ability, and general tactical prowess. He hired David Shaw as his offensive coordinator; Shaw had served as receivers coach for Harbaugh in 2006 at the University of San Diego after spending nine seasons as a position coach in the NFL. He hired Western Michigan defensive coordinator Scott Shafer as his D.C. Bowling Green linebackers coach D.J. Durkin became his defensive ends coach, and former San Diego State linebackers coach Andy Buh became his linebackers coach. Harbaugh's offensive coordinator at USD, Tim Drevno, became his tight ends coach; and his USD defensive line coach, Lance Anderson, became his defensive tackles coach. And Willie Taggart, assistant head coach for Jim's father Jack at Western Kentucky, became his running backs coach.

This staff had no big names whatsoever. Harbaugh didn't go after old coaches with recognizable names and lengthy résumés; he went after guys with something to prove. And in the seven seasons that followed, they proved plenty.

Shaw is now the Stanford head coach. He took over when Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers, and he has gone 23-4 in two seasons. Shafer is now the Syracuse head coach after a successful stint as Doug Marrone's aggressive defensive coordinator. Durkin is now Florida's defensive coordinator, and Buh is California's. Drevno is Harbaugh's offensive line coach for the 49ers, and Anderson remains at Stanford, serving as Shaw's OLBs coach.

This could work out pretty well.

Meanwhile, Taggart, who was just 30 when Harbaugh brought him on in Palo Alto, has in his own way been perhaps the biggest success story of all. After three years at Stanford, Taggart was pulled back to Western Kentucky, his alma mater (where he had once been a star quarterback), to save a program that was in some way regretting the move to FBS. Under David Elson, the Hilltoppers had gone just 2-22 in their first two years as full-time FBS members, and they turned to Taggart to bail them out. He did. WKU went 2-10 and ranked 99th in the F/+ rankings in 2010, Taggart's first year. They improved to 7-5 and 93rd in 2011, then 7-6 and 69th in 2012.

WKU never broke through with an 11-win season or anything, but Taggart needed just three years to install a disciplined, competitive system and turn WKU from a free-falling program into one with one of the higher ceilings in the Sun Belt. And he didn't do so with outlandish tactics or risky recruiting -- he did so with what might as well be known as the Harbaugh method: Build a physical style of play around motivated athletes with chips on their shoulders, find out what they do well, and fit your system around that. Play as aggressively as possible, especially on defense, but play within the bounds of what your talent will allow. Take whatever the opponent gives you, and wear them down until they give you more.

Taggart's WKU teams weren't fancy. Neither were Harbaugh's (or Shaw's) at Stanford. But they were sound and fiery, and they were true FBS-caliber teams. Now, Taggart is South Florida's head coach; he inherits a team that fell apart down the stretch last year and certainly lacks for explosive offensive talent. But USF is further up the food chain in the American Conference than WKU was in the Sun Belt. This could work out pretty well.

2012 Schedule & Results

Record: 3-9 | Adj. Record: 7-5 | Final F/+ Rk: 73
Date Opponent Score W-L Adj. Score Adj. W-L
1-Sep UT-Chattanooga 34-13 W 22.7 - 9.4 W
8-Sep at Nevada 32-31 W 36.4 - 27.3 W
13-Sep Rutgers 13-23 L 33.9 - 26.9 W
22-Sep at Ball State 27-31 L 33.1 - 29.0 W
29-Sep Florida State 17-30 L 35.1 - 24.8 W
6-Oct at Temple 28-37 L 23.1 - 31.2 L
20-Oct at Louisville 25-27 L 25.4 - 33.7 L
27-Oct Syracuse 36-37 L 37.3 - 34.8 W
3-Nov Connecticut 13-6 W 27.8 - 26.6 W
17-Nov at Miami 9-40 L 19.0 - 36.5 L
23-Nov at Cincinnati 10-27 L 20.8 - 24.4 L
1-Dec Pittsburgh 3-27 L 5.2 - 24.9 L
Category Offense Rk Defense Rk
Points Per Game 20.6 106 27.4 57
Adj. Points Per Game 26.6 79 27.5 60

2. Always be closing

Be it because of lack of depth, tight tactical choices, pure luck, or some other reason, USF was awful in close games over the last couple of seasons under Skip Holtz. The Bulls went just 3-8 in one-possession games in 2011-12, consistently figuring out how to both stay close and falter near the end.

Make no mistake, it was at least partially because of luck. As you can see near the bottom of the post, USF suffered nearly three points per game of bad turnovers luck in a season that saw it lose three games by four or fewer points. The Bulls were legitimately decent early in the season but just couldn't make enough plays to overcome bad bounces. And as the season wore on, a combination of injuries and simple collapse turned this competitive team into a dud.

Adj. Points Per Game (first 5 games): USF 32.2, Opponent 23.4 (plus-8.8)
Adj. Points Per Game (next 4 games): Opponent 31.5, USF 28.4 (minus-3.1)
Adj. Points Per Game (last 3 games): Opponent 28.6, USF 15.0 (minus-13.6)

USF began the 2011 season 4-0 and finished 1-7 (with five losses by six or fewer points), and after a 2-0 start in 2012, the Bulls went just 1-9 to finish. Bad luck or no, that tends to get you fired. Despite two top-40 performances in three seasons (USF was 40th and 8-5 in 2010, 35th and an unlucky 5-7 in 2011), Holtz was let go.

The good news is that USF is a lot closer to decent than the record suggests. Holtz brought in some interesting pieces by way of both recruiting and transfer; suffice it to say, Taggart's first USF team is infinitely more talented than his first WKU team, even if there are some clear weaknesses in both backfields.

Offense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 90 63 60 63
RUSHING 67 50 34 54
PASSING 79 75 81 73
Standard Downs 70 64 73
Passing Downs 54 57 54
Redzone 108 114 91
Q1 Rk 81 1st Down Rk 75
Q2 Rk 90 2nd Down Rk 77
Q3 Rk 61 3rd Down Rk 62
Q4 Rk 58

Quarterback

Note: players in bold below are 2013 returnees. Players in italics are questionable with injury/suspension.

Player Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Comp Att Yards Comp
Rate
TD INT Sacks Sack Rate Yards/
Att.
B.J. Daniels 165 290 2,075 56.9% 14 10 13 4.3% 6.6
Matt Floyd 6'1, 202 So. *** (5.5) 57 110 466 51.8% 0 5 8 6.8% 3.7
Bobby Eveld 6'5, 217 Sr. *** (5.5) 3 8 29 37.5% 0 0 0 0.0% 3.6
Steven Bench
(Penn State)
6'2, 208 So. *** (5.5) 2 8 12 25.0% 0 0 1 11.1% 1.1
Tommy Eveld 6'5, 189 RSFr. NR






3. Did we underrate B.J. Daniels?

It didn't take long to figure out what B.J. Daniels did well and what he did really poorly. Daniels started for most of four seasons at USF, rushing for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in his career and passing for nearly 8,500 with over 50 touchdowns. But he also threw nearly 40 interceptions and completed under 60 percent of his passes for his career. Put enough interesting pieces around him, and he can thrive, but USF just didn't have enough in 2012.

Here's the question, though: Did we underrate Daniels? When Daniels got hurt and missed the final three games of his career, the USF offense went from average to horrific. With Matt Floyd at quarterback, USF's per-pass averages dropped in half, and the Bulls averaged just 5.0 yards per play against a pretty bad Miami defense, 4.0 against Cincinnati, and a ridiculous 2.4 against Pitt. And in the NFL preseason, Daniels has drawn even with Colt McCoy and Scott Tolzien in the battle to back up Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco. It was easy to draw a picture of Daniels as a good runner and a woefully inefficient passer. But was that on him? Or was he the only thing keeping the USF offense together?

Regardless, Daniels is gone now. It appears that either Floyd, senior Bobby Eveld, or Penn State transfer Steven Bench will start this year; the three combined to post genuinely awful stats in 2012, but all they'll be asked to do in Taggart's and offensive coordinator Walt Wells' system is avoid mistakes. And probably throw a lot to the tight end. USF doesn't need a star, but it needs more than what these three produced last year.

Running Back

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Rushes Yards Yards/
Carry
Hlt Yds/
Carry
TD Adj.
POE
Demetris Murray RB 170 665 3.9 3.0 6 -14.5
B.J. Daniels QB 91 523 5.7 5.0 5 +8.6
Lindsey Lamar RB 66 475 7.2 7.6 3 +13.6
Marcus Shaw RB 5'9, 178 Sr. *** (5.6) 51 236 4.6 2.4 0 -0.6
Matt Floyd QB 6'1, 202 So. *** (5.5) 10 20 2.0 4.9 0 -2.6
Derrick Hopkins WR 5'5, 158 Sr. ** (5.4) 5 4 0.8 2.0 0 -2.1
Willie Davis RB 5'9, 213 So. *** (5.6)




Michael Pierre RB 5'10, 202 Jr. *** (5.5)





4. If you're looking for a fantasy tight end…

The WKU offense, run by Wells last year, leaned heavily on a workhorse running back (Antonio Andrews) and Stanford-esque passes to the tight end and fullback. WKU tight ends were targeted more than 100 times in 2012, and starter Jack Doyle produced a 73 percent catch rate with a decent 7.8 yards per target. We don't know if USF has a workhorse back (the leading returning rusher, Marcus Shaw, carried 51 times last year and didn't get very far with them), but we do know that tight end Sean Price has a pedigree (former four-star recruit) and held his own last year, all things considered. He caught 21 passes last season, and it would be a shock if he didn't double that in 2013.

If the efficiency passes to Price and running backs take hold, it wouldn't be surprising if receivers Andre Davis and Derrick Hopkins were able to hold their own. Hopkins was strong last year in only about two and a half targets per game, but that's probably not enough of a sample to rely on. After Davis and Hopkins, it gets barren quickly. Taggart won't need many wideouts to craft his offense, but he needs at least a couple.

Receiving Corps

Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Targets Catches Yards Catch Rate Yds/
Target
Target
Rate
%SD Real Yds/
Target
RYPR
Andre Davis WR 6'1, 202 Jr. *** (5.6) 85 46 534 54.1% 6.3 22.0% 54.1% 6.1 68.8
Terrence Mitchell WR 61 31 414 50.8% 6.8 15.8% 59.0% 6.8 53.3
Victor Marc WR 41 21 233 51.2% 5.7 10.6% 63.4% 5.6 30.0
Derrick Hopkins WR 5'5, 158 Sr. ** (5.4) 31 19 278 61.3% 9.0 8.0% 54.8% 8.8 35.8
Sean Price TE 6'3, 249 So. **** (5.8) 31 21 209 67.7% 6.7 8.0% 48.4% 6.7 26.9
Deonte Welch WR 6'0, 206 Jr. *** (5.5) 28 18 183 64.3% 6.5 7.3% 60.7% 6.5 23.6
Demetris Murray RB 25 20 134 80.0% 5.4 6.5% 48.0% 5.7 17.3
Lindsey Lamar RB 18 12 156 66.7% 8.7 4.7% 55.6% 8.8 20.1
Evan Landi TE 17 10 120 58.8% 7.1 4.4% 58.8% 7.1 15.4
D'vario Montgomery WR 13 6 65 46.2% 5.0 3.4% 53.8% 5.1 8.4
Marcus Shaw RB 5'9, 178 Sr. *** (5.6) 9 8 34 88.9% 3.8 2.3% 22.2% 6.1 4.4
Chris Dunkley WR 6'0, 180 Jr. **** (5.9) 7 4 93 57.1% 13.3 1.8% 28.6% 13.2 12.0
Mike McFarland TE 6'5, 244 Jr. *** (5.7) 7 4 32 57.1% 4.6 1.8% 42.9% 6.3 4.1
Sterling Griffin WR 5 2 43 40.0% 8.6 1.3% 40.0% 6.3 5.5
Alex Mut WR 6'3, 190 RSFr. *** (5.6)








Guito Ervilus TE 6'4, 221 RSFr. *** (5.6)








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 105.2 3.03 3.16 39.6% 74.5% 17.8% 115.8 3.7% 6.2%
Rank 47 55 66 58 28 44 47 42 58
Player Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals Career Starts/Honors/Notes
Mark Popek LT 30 career starts; 2012 1st All-Big East
Danous Estenor RG 24 career starts
Quinterrius Eatmon RT 6'6, 311 Jr. *** (5.6) 23 career starts
Austin Reiter C 6'3, 273 Jr. ** (5.2) 12 career starts
Darrell Williams LT 6'5, 287 Jr. *** (5.6) 5 career starts
Thor Jozwiak RG 6'4, 300 So. *** (5.6) 5 career starts
Damien Edwards LT 4 career starts
Brynjar Gudmundsson LG 6'4, 305 So. ** (5.4) 1 career start
Lawrence Martin RT 6'3, 316 Sr. ** (5.4) 1 career start
Max Lang LT 6'5, 274 So. *** (5.6) 1 career start
Steven Jacques LG 6'3, 306 Sr. *** (5.6)
Mak Djulegovic RG 6'5, 289 So. NR
Kameron Davis OL 6'5, 258 RSFr. *** (5.7)
Kofi Amichia OL 6'4, 265 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Jeremi Hall OL 6'5, 340 Fr. *** (5.7)

5. This line might be awesome, Part I

Other than Daniels himself, the line may have been the strength of the USF offense in 2012. That might say more about the poor quality of most of the USF offense, but the Bulls did manage top-50 rankings in both Adj. Line Yards and Adj. Sack Rates. That's a decent accomplishment when so much of the offense is struggling, but it's a downright incredible accomplishment when you consider how much shuffling was taking place. Because of some combination of injury and ineffectiveness, USF started EIGHT different line combinations and 10 different linemen at one point or another; that's a simply ridiculous lack of continuity that puts those top-50 rankings in perspective.

Including one from 2011, USF finished the season with 11 players having accumulated at least one career start on the line. Seven of those players return, including two-year starting tackle Quinterrius Eatmon. Reasonably good injury luck could very well bump these line stats into the top-30 or top-40 (it's already a top-five unit on the all-names list); at least, they will if there are quarterbacks and running backs on the roster good enough to take advantage.

Defense

Category Yards/
Game Rk
S&P+ Rk Success
Rt. Rk
PPP+ Rk
OVERALL 66 50 68 44
RUSHING 51 38 59 31
PASSING 90 64 91 58
Standard Downs 39 74 21
Passing Downs 77 74 76
Redzone 86 95 71
Q1 Rk 41 1st Down Rk 39
Q2 Rk 35 2nd Down Rk 63
Q3 Rk 64 3rd Down Rk 49
Q4 Rk 83

6. Chuck Bresnahan has a cool résumé

South Florida's new defensive coordinator began his coaching career in 1983 as a Navy graduate assistant. He was receivers coach at Navy, then tight ends coach at Georgia Tech, then linebackers coach at Georgia Tech. In 1992, he became Maine's defensive coordinator, and in 1994, he moved on to the NFL ranks, where he spent four seasons as a linebackers coach for the Browns and Colts. Then he became the Raiders' defensive backs coach and, for four years, defensive coordinator. He spent three years as the Bengals' defensive coordinator, was dumped after 2007, took a year off, then joined the UFL's Florida Tuskers. He was the linebackers coach there for one year, then spent a year as the Tuskers' defensive coordinator, then went back to the Raiders for a year as D.C. In 2012, he became the D.C. for the UFL's Sacramento Mountain Lions, at least until the season shut down in October. (Head coach of the Mountain Lions last year? Dennis Green. The random Stanford ties are fun.)

So after both playing and coaching for an independent, Bresnahan has coached for teams that are now in the ACC, Colonial, AFC North, AFC South, AFC West, and UFL. And now he's in the American Athletic Conference. I have nothing to add here about the quality of his tactics or anything like that; I just wanted to celebrate that this guy's not only been around the block, he's been around many blocks.

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 106.4 2.69 3.22 36.2% 54.5% 19.7% 120.1 6.1% 6.2%
Rank 36 28 61 34 5 55 33 23 64
Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Cory Grissom DT 12 31.0 4.5% 7 2.5 0 2 0 0
Tevin Mims DE 6'3, 246 Sr. *** (5.5) 11 26.5 3.8% 3.5 2 0 0 1 0
Aaron Lynch
(2011 Notre Dame)
DE 6'6, 244 So. **** (6.0) 12 26.0 3.6% 7 5.5 0 2 1 0
Ryne Giddins DE 6'3, 253 Sr. **** (6.0) 12 20.5 3.0% 4 3.5 0 1 0 0
Luke Sager DT 6'3, 275 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 19.5 2.8% 3 0 0 2 0 0
Elkino Watson DT 6'2, 286 Jr. **** (5.8) 12 17.5 2.5% 7 2 1 0 0 0
Todd Chandler DT 6'0, 317 Jr. **** (5.8) 12 16.0 2.3% 5 2 0 0 0 0
Eric Lee DE 6'3, 230 So. *** (5.5) 11 12.5 1.8% 1.5 0.5 0 0 0 0
Julius Forte DE 6'2, 253 Sr. *** (5.6) 11 11.5 1.7% 1.5 0.5 0 2 0 1
James Hamilton DT 6'2, 308 So. *** (5.7) 11 10.0 1.4% 1 0 0 0 0 1
Mike Jeune DE 12 7.0 1.0% 0 0 0 0 0 1
Anthony Hill (2011) DE 6'4, 281 Sr. ** (5.4) 10 6.0 0.9% 2 1 0 2 1 0
Clavion Nelson DL 6'3, 289 So. *** (5.6) 5 3.0 0.4% 1 1 0 1 0 0
Derrick Calloway DT 6'2, 328 Fr. **** (5.8)

Deadrin Senat DT 6'1, 318 Fr. *** (5.7)






7. This line might be awesome, Part II

Last year's USF defense had a sturdy front seven and a bend-don't-break secondary that bent pretty far. The secondary was indeed either too passive or not good enough to be aggressive, but the front seven, particularly the line, made sure USF was never too far out of games. It's hard to go 3-9 while never allowing more than 40 points and only twice losing by 17 points -- usually, if you're 3-9, you've gotten blown out a few times -- but if not for the defense, things could have been a lot worse.

The line does have to replace a pretty active tackle in Cory Grissom, but it returns the eight leading tacklers after Grissom and adds a blue-chip sophomore in Notre Dame transfer (and local boy) Aaron Lynch. Lynch's addition, alongside ends Ryne Giddins (another former blue-chipper) and Tevin Mims and tackles Luke Sager, Elkino Watson (former four-star recruit), and Todd Chandler (ditto), gives USF ridiculous depth in the trenches. And if two enormous freshmen (Derrick Calloway and Deadrin Senat), then the upside gets even higher.

In other words, the line should do quite a few favors for a linebacking corps that does have to replace two starters but returns key backups and does get DeDe Lattimore back for a 17th year in St. Petersburg. Lattimore picked off a pass in the end zone during USF's win over Notre Dame at the start of the 2011 season (who didn't?); considering the plot twists that have taken place for both teams since then, it feels like that game happened in about 2007.

Linebackers

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Sam Barrington WLB 11 64.5 9.3% 6.5 3.5 0 3 2 0
DeDe Lattimore MLB 6'1, 237 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 60.5 8.8% 7.5 3.5 0 2 0 0
Mike Lanaris MLB 12 34.5 5.0% 1.5 0 0 0 0 0
Reshard Cliett WLB 6'2, 220 Jr. ** (5.4) 11 32.5 4.7% 2 1 0 3 0 1
Tashon Whitehurst WLB 6'3, 198 So. *** (5.6) 10 12.0 1.7% 1 1 0 0 0 1
Zack Bullock SLB 6'3, 213 So. *** (5.5) 9 6.0 0.9% 0.5 0 0 0 0 0
Edsel Caprice LB 3 1.5 0.2% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ruben Garcia LB 6'0, 236 Jr. NR 11 0.5 0.1% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Hans Louis SLB 6'0, 215 Jr. ** (5.4)

Corian Hamilton MLB 6'0, 232 So. *** (5.6)
Rahmon Swain LB 6'0, 208 Jr. *** (5.6)







Secondary

Name Pos Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Rivals GP Tackles % of Team TFL Sacks Int PBU FF FR
Kayvon Webster CB 12 71.5 10.3% 4 2 0 6 3 0
Mark Joyce FS 5'10, 195 Sr. *** (5.6) 12 61.0 8.8% 0.5 0 0 1 0 0
JaQuez Jenkins SS 6'2, 190 Sr. *** (5.7) 12 44.5 6.4% 4 0 0 1 1 1
George Baker CB 12 38.0 5.5% 0 0 0 5 0 0
Ernie Tabuteau SS 12 19.0 2.7% 0 0 0 0 2 0
Fidel Montgomery FS 6'0, 185 Sr. *** (5.5) 12 16.5 2.4% 0 0 0 0 1 0
Jon Lejiste SS 8 14.5 2.1% 0 0 1 2 0 0
Joshua Brown CB 6'0, 185 Sr. ** (5.4) 8 10.5 1.5% 1 0 0 0 0 0
Kenneth Durden CB 6'0, 173 So. *** (5.5) 7 8.0 1.2% 0 0 0 1 0 0
Trevon Griffin SS 6'0, 202 Jr. NR 9 3.0 0.4% 0 0 0 0 0 0
Brandon Salinas CB 5'11, 170 Sr. NR
Chris Bivins, Jr. DB 5'11, 175 So. *** (5.7)


Torrel Saffold CB 5'11, 163 Jr. ** (5.4)
Jalen Spencer DB 6'0, 178 RSFr. *** (5.6)
Lamar Robbins DB 6'2, 181 Fr. **** (5.8)






8. You're on the spot, Ron Cooper

Like his defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach Ron Cooper has been around. (Taggart didn't exactly go all-in on young, hungry guys like Harbaugh did.) He went 9-13 in two years as Eastern Michigan's head coach (really not bad for EMU), then moved on to Louisville and was dumped after going 1-10 in his third year. He spent four seasons as Alabama A&M's head coach, winning a SWAC division title in his third year, but he has spent most of the last decade as a defensive backs coach at South Carolina, LSU, and in the NFL for the Buccaneers.

He's got potentially the hardest job on the staff this year (well, other than quarterbacks coach Nick Sheridan): Make something of a secondary that was relatively feckless last year and is inexperienced this year. The six returning DBs who played last year combined to defense just three passes, and while safety JaQuez Jenkins had a nice presence near the line of scrimmage, this unit needs to produce more than it has recently. Some fun youngsters might help with that.

Special Teams

Punter Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Punts Avg TB FC I20 FC/I20
Ratio
Justin Brockhaus-Kann 54 40.6 5 28 19 87.0%
Mattias Ciabatti 6'0, 184 So. 1 43.0 1 0 0 0.0%
Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Kickoffs Avg TB TB%
Marvin Kloss 6'0, 198 Jr. 55 63.7 37 67.3%
Maikon Bonani 1 55.0 0 0.0%
Place-Kicker Ht, Wt 2013
Year
PAT FG
(0-39)
Pct FG
(40+)
Pct
Maikon Bonani 21-23 11-12 91.7% 7-11 63.6%
Returner Pos. Ht, Wt 2013
Year
Returns Avg. TD
Marcus Shaw KR 5'9, 178 Sr. 10 24.5 0
Terrence Mitchell KR 6 17.3 0
Andre Davis PR 6'1, 202 Jr. 11 3.3 0
Terrence Mitchell PR 8 10.0 0
Category Rk
Special Teams F/+ 92
Net Punting 67
Net Kickoffs 8
Touchback Pct 6
Field Goal Pct 34
Kick Returns Avg 121
Punt Returns Avg 87

9. Marvin Kloss has a cannon

USF's special teams unit was all over the map in 2012 -- awful in the return game, decent in the punting game, and outstanding on kickoffs. Marvin Kloss booted two-thirds of his kickoffs for touchbacks last season, and he's a candidate to replace Maikon Bonani as place-kicker. I guess we'll see if he can actually control that cannon this year. (Now, can he return kicks as well?)

2013 Schedule & Projection Factors

2013 Schedule
Date Opponent Proj. Rk
31-Aug McNeese State NR
7-Sep at Michigan State 18
14-Sep Florida Atlantic 118
28-Sep Miami 25
5-Oct Cincinnati 26
12-Oct at Connecticut 53
26-Oct Louisville 31
31-Oct at Houston 58
16-Nov Memphis 116
23-Nov SMU 91
29-Nov at Central Florida 55
7-Dec at Rutgers 48
Five-Year F/+ Rk 47
Two-Year Recruiting Rk 49
TO Margin/Adj. TO Margin* -20 / -13.7
TO Luck/Game -2.6
Approx. Ret. Starters (Off. / Def.) 10 (4, 6)
Yds/Pt Margin** +3.2

10. It all comes down to the backfields

When you look at the schedule above, realize this: USF is one of only four AAC teams to rank in the F/+ top 40 in two of the last three years (40th in 2010, 35th in 2011). The Bulls aren't that far removed from a strong level of play despite the awful collapse at the end of 2012.

If Taggart is able to engineer a return to even just the No. 40 ranking, look about how many games could be winnable: If Louisville is less than elite (we'll get to them tomorrow), every home game is incredibly winnable, and a top 40 team could be expected to win at UConn, Houston, and perhaps UCF as well. Michigan State might be out of reach (then again…), and I think Rutgers will be better than its projection, but it's not that much of a reach to say that a top 40 team could go about 9-3 or 10-2 with this schedule.

For USF was built up as a team ready to ascend to conference titles and heights never achieved by the Bulls (aside from a few weeks in the middle of 2007). I never quite understood the hype, but with expectations ratcheted down a bit this year, I like what I'm seeing from this squad. Taggart knows what to do with a team that has strong lines and questions marks in the backfield. (Well, "question marks" could be kind when it comes to the offensive backfield.) He should be able to make something of this team. Get on the bus.

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