In the days to come Bearcat Insider will release one-by-one our Preseason Big East Rankings.
Here is the list released by the media.
Today we start with our number eight team in the Big East. While the media picked the Bearcats to finish last, Bearcat Insider doesn't see the same outcome in 2005.
Team #8 is
The Big East better get their licks in early and often on the Bulls. Located in one of the best states for football talent, players will not have to leave their homes to find a football program competing at the top level of college football. In the past, players who didn't see Miami, Florida or Florida State make an offer would leave the sunshine state and find homes in colder climates. Now there is no need to do that and it will only help make South Florida a team to be reckoned with in future years.
But while the future looks bright, the 2005 season looks to be one of great adjustments. Here is the breakdown on why the Bulls will finish last in the Big East for 2005.
STRENGTH: Running back Andre Hall. What do you call a running back that gains over six yards a carry? NFL'er is what you call it. With nice size this power back will keep the Bulls running game going, but the team's weakness will allow teams to stack the box.
WEEKNESS: Quarterback! The Bulls don't have a quarterback that can take the pressure off of their running game. How are the Bulls looking to help who takes the majority of snaps? By running the spread. The Bulls won't have a quarterback in place until they break camp and play their first game of the season.
SUSPECT: Defending the pass on defense. The Bulls were killed by teams in 2004. While they feel the talent is better adjusted for this season, were still looking at the same players. At this time the defensive backfield has proved they can tackle, just not stop the pass.
The Bulls have talent, but not enough of it for this season in the Big East. They will start the season off on the wrong foot by playing in Happy Valley, but we still don't know what Penn State team is going to show up this year.
They then will follow up with a string of home games that could see them earn a victory or two. Florida A&M and Central Florida will allow the Bulls get at least one victory before Louisville heads into town. Then the Bulls have back-to-back road trips to Miami and Pittsburgh before returning home for West Virginia. The final four games of the season will see only Cincinnati come to town. Road trips to Rutgers, Syracuse and Connecticut will make for a hard road.
WHY THE BULLS WILL NOT BE #8
The spread offense allows teams that have a strong running game to surprise teams. But with some talent at the receiver's position, all the Bulls need is a quarterback to deliver the goods and they will make a big splash in the Big East. The defense is better then in 2004. With a strong core of linebackers the Bulls will see the return of defensive tackle Tim Jones to keep the pressure off the backers to make plays.
WHY THE BULLS FINISH #8
The lack of a quality quarterback allows teams to stack the box and force them to throw the ball. That will not help an offensive line that is suspect on the edges after the loss of two very good ones from last year's team. On defense the Bulls will not be able to stop a strong passing team. Ranked 95th in pass defense for 2004, the Bulls will need players to step up and make a difference.
ALL BIG EAST PROSPECTS
LB - STEPHEN NICHOLAST
SS - JOHNNIE JONES
FS - DANNY VERPAELE
DT - TIM JONES
RB - ANDRE HALL
WR - JOHNNY PEYTON
9/3 - @ PENN STATE
9/10 - FLORIDA A&M
9/17 - CENTRAL FLORIDA
9/24 - LOUISVILLE
10/1 - @ MIAMI
10/15 - @ PITTSBURGH
10/22 - WEST VIRGINIA
11/5 - @ RUTGERS
11/12 - @ SYRACUSE
11/19 - CINCINNATI
11/26 - @ CONNECTICUT
I see the Bulls ending with a 2 - 9 mark in 2005. While they have enough talent to earn a couple of more victories, no team may have a harder stretch of games then South Florida. Louisville, Miami, Pittsburgh and West Virginia make up the middle part of the schedule and could kill the attitude of this team by November.