2012 South Florida Bulls Football Preview
2011 Record: 5-7 (1-6 Big East)
Head Coach: Skip Holtz, third season (13-12 at South Florida) (85-62 overall)
Projected Returning Starters: 18
Spring Game: April 21st
Notes: South Florida football is a rather recent invention, especially at the FBS level. Still, USF is one of the bigger schools in the country, having an enrollment over 47,000. Jim Leavitt coached the team from its inception in 1997, as a FCS school, through the FBS transition in 2001 (which included two years as an independent). Skip Holtz, the second college football coach for USF, took over in 2010. Last year was a struggle for the Bulls, as USF started the season 4-0, including an opening game win at Notre Dame, over Holtz’s alma mater, in a thunderstorm. Following a 42-24 trouncing of UTEP, the Bulls lost seven of their next eight, missing the post season for the first time since 2005, their first season in the Big East.
BVTSB Take: South Florida was 1-5 in games decided by a touchdown or less. Those numbers, alone, dictate the Bulls should improve in 2012. Additionally, USF is a veteran team, returning the most starters of any Big East team. The problem is, its due or die for the Bulls in 2012, as many players at key positions will graduate in 2012, leaving the team in rebuilding mode for 2013. The Bulls enter the season as a Big East contender, and won’t have to play West Virginia, but pitfalls still exist on the conference schedule, including trips to Louisville and Cincinnati; the Bulls have four Big East home games and three Big East road games. Quarterback B.J. Daniels returns for his senior season in 2012. He completed nearly 59% of his passes last season, for 2604 yards and 13 touchdowns. Daniels’ problem has been the fact he is turnover prone. As the season wore on, his turnovers increased – he threw six interceptions in his last six games (did not play in the loss to Louisville). Running back Darrell Scott departs the program for the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys – Scott was the leading rusher, accounting for over 800 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Third leading rusher Demetris Murray, behind Daniels, does return; he averaged 4.2 yards per carry and reached the end zone eight times. The top three wide receivers for the Bulls, Sterling Griffin, Deonte Welch, and Victor Marc, all return this season. The trio combined for over 1200 yards receiving and six receiving touchdowns. For the most part, the Big East is a run first league, but teams who have been able to develop a legitimate passing game have done well (look to Cincinnati, Louisville, and West Virginia last season). South Florida will face five teams in non-conference, with games against Chattanooga, at Nevada, at Ball State, Florida State, and at Miami (FL). The schedule is daunting, especially with games against the Florida schools, and Nevada is no cakewalk. Ball State caused problems for many teams last year, too, but not for USF. USF as a Big East contender seems a bit of a reach, especially with key games on the road – look for them to lose to a Big East opponent they should beat, too.
2012 Early Projection: 8-4
To see the 2012 Big East composite schedule, click here.
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