College Football Preview: The 2015 South Florida Bulls
South Florida Bulls Preview
2014 Record: 4-8 (7th in the AAC)
Odds to Win National Championship: +990000 See the Latest Odds
Overview: The South Florida Bulls have won just nine games in their last three seasons combined, and head coach Willie Taggart is on the hot seat. USF was once a program on the rise under head coach Jim Leavitt, but, boy, things have changed the last couple of seasons. South Florida hasn’t reached a bowl game since 2010 and a lot will have to go right this season in order to end that drought.
Offense: South Florida’s offense goes as far as running back Marlon Mack goes, as this kid is ridiculously talented, topping 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns as a freshman. Mack is easily one of the more underrated backs in the country. Quinton Flowers is likely going to get the nod at quarterback after completing just eight of 20 passes attempts last season as a freshman. Flowers is a quick decision maker and should be an upgrade over Mike White who transferred to WKU. Rodney Adams will be the top option at wide receiver after 23 catches last season and tight end Sean Price is due for a breakout season after three years with the program. Even with a revamped offensive line, USF will look to feed Mack early and often just like last season.
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Defense: USF has a new defensive coordinator in former Ole Miss coach Tom Allen who brings a 4-2-5 formation and hopes to get more athletes on the field. USF has some talent and experience to work with, including top-two tacklers from last year in Jamie Byrd and Nigel Harris. In fact, South Florida has it’s top-five tacklers returning for another year, and that doesn’t even include Derrick Calloway who showed some of his potential last season along the defensive line. South Florida had a defense last season that produced 70 tackles for loss and 14 fumbles. With a lot of the key guys still holding down the fort, the Bulls could have the surprise defense in the AAC. The potential is there for Allen to accomplish some things.
Special Teams: Emilio Nadelman is likely going to replace Marvin Kloss at kicker. Mattias Ciabatti returns at punter after averaging 44.4 yards per kick on 65 attempts.
Overall: This is a do-or-die season for Taggart. South Florida has solid building blocks in place on both sides of the ball and Mack is one of the better running backs in the country. There is enough pieces in place for USF to push for five or six wins. Hopefully for Taggart, the Bulls clinch the postseason for the first time since 2010, or they’ll have a new coach heading into 2016.