No. 20 – South Florida enters this season with Charlie Strong as the new head coach. Last season, USF finished 11-2 and won their conference, and the expectations for this year are even higher. They are the bulk of their playmakers, and will be favored in each game they play this season. Anything other than 13-0 will be a disappointment for USF.
The leader of their team is Senior quarterback Quinton Flowers. Flowers has dark horse Heisman potential, after leading his team in passing yards (2,812), rushing yards(1,530) and total touchdowns with 42. His 1,530 yards on the ground is the 4th highest by a quarterback in FBS history. With Flowers leading the attack, the 2016 Bulls set 40 team records including touchdowns (77) and total scoring (569).
Behind Flowers will be a committee effort after Marlon Mack, a three-time first team All-AAC skipped his senior season for the draft. He is the Bulls career rushing leader with 3,609 yards. D’Ernest Johnson seems like the choice to replace Mack, after 543 rushing yards and 28 receptions last season. Flowers rushed the ball nearly 200 times last season, and that number looks to increase now that Mack is gone.
The Bulls defense in 2017 will have to improve for the perfect season to be possible. Last season, the offense finished 11th overall in total offense, while the defense ranked 120 nationally allowing 482 yards per game. They hired Brian Jean-Mary to be the new defensive coordinator, the 4th in 4 years. The entire defensive unit is full of experience, but they are only returning 4 every-down starters. The most experienced defender on the bulls is middle linebacker Auggie Sanchez who ranks second in the nation in career tackles (303).
Some key games for the Bulls in a year where they are expected to go undefeated was tricky, but here are some.
- 21 – South Florida vs. Temple – Tampa, FL
- 4 – South Florida vs. Houston – Tampa, FL
- 16 – South Florida vs. Tulsa – Tampa, FL
Each big game for USF is at their home stadium, a big bonus for a non-power 5 potentially making a run at the playoff.
Joey Knight from the Tampa Bay Times joined the mMm Ranch to discuss USF football: