Co-owner of SoFloBulls.com Matthew Staton covers the South Florida Bulls and spared a few minutes to answer some questions I sent to him for the Bearcats/Bulls game this Saturday at 7pm on ESPNU at Nippert Stadium. Make sure you follow Matt on Twitter, I've known him for a while and he's always been my ace when it has come to the Bulls
Bearcat Insider: Head coach Willie Taggart was on the hot seat at the beginning of the 2015 season, what did he do to turn the narrative around in South Florida?
Staton: I wouldn't say his seat was that hot, but fans were getting restless for sure. I think the combination of coaching and talent led to the turn around last year. Coach Taggart had to fill the roster that was devoid of talent when he took over and it took time to get his players in and get them to buy into the system. We also didn't have a quarterback that could run the system with any success until Quinton Flowers took over and it just rolled on from there.
Bearcat Insider: How has quarterback Quinton Flowers improved this year?
Staton: Flowers has matured as a leader of not only the team but for the offense as well. The coaching staff has a lot of faith in him and he has full control of the offense. Flowers has also gotten better on some of the deeper passing routes, but still struggles at times with shorter routes.
Bearcat Insider: How do the Bulls like to attack their opponents? I see that Flowers has been a pure dual threat is it more planned running or him creating after initial reads are there?
Staton: The Bulls have a lot of weapons starting with Marlon Mack in the ground game. The Bulls like to feed him early, running inside and out. USF likes to go sideline to sideline as well, reading defenses and attacking them with their overall speed. Then, USF will take their shots after defenses try to take away some of the running lanes. As for Quinton, its about 50/50 on designed runs and the run-pass option. The offense relies on Flowers to make the proper reads and it usually works well.
Bearcat Insider: I hear about linebacker Auggie Sanchez a lot, is he hands down the star player on the defense? What does he bring to the table?
Staton: I wouldn't say he is the hands down star, but he is the motivational leader among all of them. There are others like Nigel Harris, Ronnie Hoggins, and Bruce Hector that are also stars among the defensive players. Sanchez, like I said before, is the emotional leader but is also a very sure tackler in the middle. He is very stout against the run.
Bearcat Insider: What is strength of this current Bulls defense?
Staton: The unit as a whole is very strong, across all three levels. USF has a lot of depth that allows them to stay fresh throughout a game. They have had some issues against the run this year, especially with FSU, but its all correctable adjustments.
Bearcat Insider: Do you think if the Big 12 expands that the Bulls have a strong chance to get it?
Staton: Well, we haven't been eliminated, so there is always a chance we could get in. USF made their pitch last to the Big 12 so we will have to wait and see. USF has a lot going for it with the media market, large school, etc. it will just depend if the Big 12 wants to expand and by how many teams they do it with.
Bearcat Insider: Prediction?
Staton: Of course I'm going to pick USF in this game, but I don't think we will see a blow out like we did last year. I think Cincinnati has a lot of talent, will be in front of that home crowd and will be looking for some revenge. I say USF wins, 35 to 31.