- Andrea Adelson, ESPN Staff Writer
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Let's take a look at coaches going into Year 2 and expectations for the season.
Skip Holtz, USF
How USF fared in Year 1: The Bulls finished the season 8-5 with a big win against Clemson in the Meineke Car Care Bowl, marking the fifth straight season USF finished with at least eight wins. It was an inconsistent season, though. USF lost its first two Big East games before winning three straight to become bowl eligible. But the Bulls dropped their final two league games -- 17-10 to Pitt and 19-16 to UConn to close the season. Perhaps the biggest highlight was a 23-20 overtime win against Miami, giving USF wins against the Hurricanes and Seminoles in consecutive seasons. The offense sputtered at times, ranking No. 7 in the Big East in total offense.
Expectations for Year 2: Expectations are high at USF now that Holtz is going into his second year. For starters, his players feel more comfortable in the offensive and defensive systems. That goes for quarterback B.J. Daniels, who will have the same offensive coordinator in consecutive seasons for the first time in his career. The defense returns six starters and should be one of the best in the league. USF was picked to finish third in the Big East, but the Bulls do get West Virginia at home to close out the season.
Butch Jones, Cincinnati
How Cincinnati fared in Year 1: Not much went according to plan for the Bearcats last season. A year after an undefeated regular season, Cincinnati struggled to a 4-8 record. Cincinnati had one of the youngest defenses in the country, and were plagued by turnovers on offense. Cincinnati lost the ball 29 times, ranking No. 106 in the nation. The defense did not do much to force the takeaways, either, and Cincinnati ranked next to last in the country in turnover margin. The defense ranked No. 7 in the Big East in total defense and last in scoring defense and gave up way too many big plays.
Expectations for Year 2: The Bearcats should return to a bowl game this season. The defense is a year more experienced and has to be better. Zach Collaros returns to an offense that led the league last season and has vowed to cut down on the interceptions -- he threw 14 last season. Isaiah Pead is one of the best running backs in the Big East, so that should help as well. Cincinnati was picked to finish fifth in the Big East, but the Bearcats could be one of the biggest surprises in the league if they can put everything together.
Charlie Strong, Louisville
How Louisville fared in Year 1: The Cardinals exceeded expectations in Strong's first season, going 7-6 and winning a bowl game for the first time since the 2006 Orange Bowl. Strong had the help of 25 seniors to make such a quick turnaround off a team that went 4-8 in 2009. Bilal Powell made a huge impact at running back, finishing second in the league with 1,405 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. The Cardinals did nothing fancy but pound the ball, leading the league in rushing offense. The defense had 39 sacks, and overall the team finished in the positive column in turnover margin.
Expectations for Year 2: Louisville was picked to finish seventh in the league, largely because the Cardinals face a rebuilding year. Only three starters return on offense, and there are question marks at quarterback and the offensive line. Powell is gone, too. Defensively, the cornerback situation is pretty grim. But the front seven should be good, so if the defense can anchor this team, with Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright carrying the load in the backfield, Louisville has a chance to go bowling again.