Wednesday, August 22, 2012
Big East title chances: South Florida
By Matt Fortuna
The Bulls are up next in our series looking at each team's conference title chances. They enter head coach Skip Holtz's third season as the Big East's preseason No. 2 team.
For more from this series, click here.
Three reasons why South Florida will win the Big East
1. Offensive weapons: Not many schools can boast of four-year starters under center, but that's exactly what USF has in B.J. Daniels. On the cusp of numerous school and conference records, Daniels will be protected by a line that returns three starters, and he will have all of his top receivers from last year back. The conference's best rushing team from last year returns Demetris Murray and will feature converted receiver Lindsey Lamar.
2. Linebackers: DeDe Lattimore, Michael Lanaris and Sam Barrington all return after ranking among the top-17 Big East players in tackles last season. Playing under new defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, the unit will be the backbone of a defense that returns seven starters in all and will look to build off last year's production, which was led by Lattimore's 94 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks.
3. Defensive line: Ryne Giddins will look to be next in the line of NFL defensive end standouts from USF, as he comes off a 5.5-sack campaign from a year ago. Texas transfer Tevin Mims has emerged as the starter opposite Giddins, and the middle is the deepest area on the defensive roster for the Bulls, who will be led by Cory Grissom once he fully recovers from a broken ankle suffered in spring.
Three reasons why South Florida won't win the Big East
1. Consistency: The Bulls entered Big East play 4-0 last season before winning just one conference game. They simply need to put it all together, and would appear to have the talent to do so this year, but recent history suggests otherwise. From forcing timely turnovers to upset Notre Dame to putting forth dominant defensive and offensive efforts in losses at UConn and at Rutgers, respectively, the Bulls just can't seem to click for a extended period of time.
2. Daniels putting it all together: Daniels has gotten much better at protecting the ball and is one of the conference's best quarterbacks, but can he fully take advantage of everything around him this year and lead the Bulls to a Big East title? His legs are a wonderful asset and have gotten him out of trouble at times, but he struggled throwing the ball against stout defensive teams last season and will need to improve his accuracy and consistency in order to take USF to the top of the conference in 2012.
3. Defensive depth: The linebackers are the unit's strengths, but there is untested talent behind the starting group. Tackle and safety should be fine in terms of bodies, but questions remain about the corner spot opposite Kayvon Webster and about the second-team defensive ends.