FSU 2015 Season Preview: USF

Florida State will take on instate USF for their second game of the 2015 season.

We continue our season preview with the South Florida Bulls. South Florida went 4-8 last season and 3-5 in the AAC. Florida State last played USF in 2012, winning 30-17 in Tampa. Since then, the Bulls have slid considerably, winning just nine games and losing nine times as many games as the Seminoles.

Breaking Down the Bulls’ Schedule


Win Shares

Sep 5: Florida A&M

.95

Sep 12: At Florida State

.05

Sep 19: At Maryland

.25

Oct 2: Memphis

.4

Oct 10: Syracuse

.3

Oct 17: At Uconn

.5

Oct 24: SMU

.5

Oct 31: At Navy

.3

Nov 7: At East Carolina

.4

Nov 14: Temple

.6

Nov 20: Cincinnati

.3

Nov. 27: At UCF

.2

Overall

4.75

Another season like 2014 and USF head coach Willie Taggart might be out of a job, but it’s hard to imagine USF winning more than five games this season. At Florida State, Maryland, Navy, and UCF will all be very tough games for the Bulls to win. It is very likely they will only be favored in three games, and could end up being underdogs in all but their season opener against FAMU.

Breaking Down the Offense


Projected Starters


Quarterback

Quinton Flowers

Running back

Marlon Mack

Full Back

Kennard Swanson

Wide Receiver

Rodney Adams

Wide Receiver

A.J. Legree

Tight End

Sean Price

Left Tackle

Kofi Amichia

Left Guard

Thor Jozwiak

Center

Cameron Ruff

Right Guard

Brynjar Gudmundsson

Right Tackle

Benjamin Knox

Who to Watch

RB Marlon Mack: Mack was one of the very few shining lights for USF last season. He ran for 1,041 yards and 9 touchdowns, while also contributing out of the backfield with 21 receptions for 160 yards. If USF is going to have any chance of being better than last year Mack will need to carry the load.


QB Quinton Flowers: Flowers isn’t the best passer, but does provide a lot of versatility with his legs. USF will need that behind an offensive line that is losing both tackles and the center. Flowers will still have to win the job, but he provides an extra dynamic that the other quarterbacks on the roster don’t and that should give him an edge.


What Needs to Improve

Everyone except Mack: USF finished 116th last year in the FEI offensive rankings, and lost their starting quarterback to transfer. The offensive line lost three starters with 29 or more starts. The Bulls will need whoever wins the job at quarterback to take some of the load off Mack.


Overall

There are quite a few big questions for the USF offense and not a lot of answers at this time. Teams are going to stack the box against them, and unless the USF quarterback and receivers step up and prevent that they will have a lot of trouble moving the football. It’s going to be extremely tough to do that with three brand new players on the offensive line in the three most valuable positions. They’ll need the new guys to step up immediately, especially with the two toughest games of their season coming in September. It’s hard to see how USF can be successful on the offensive side of the ball this season.


Breaking Down the Defense


Projected Starters


Defensive End

Eric Lee

Defensive Tackle

Derrick Calloway

Nose Tackle

Deadrin Senat

Bull

Josh Black

Will Linebacker

Nigel Harris

Mike Linebacker

Auggie Sanchez

Star

Jamie Byrd

Corner

Lamar Robbins

Strong Safety

Nate Godwin

Free Safety

Devin Abraham

Corner

Johnny Ward


Who to Watch

DT Deadrin Senat: Florida State fans might remember Senat because at one point during his recruitment he was committed to the Seminoles. He will anchor the defensive line at nose tackle.

CB Jamie Byrd: Byrd was the best player on the defense for the Bulls last season. He led the team in tackles with 83 and tied the team lead for interceptions with 2.


Weaknesses

Defensive line: The returning defensive linemen only accounted for six sacks last season. The defense is moving to the 4-2-5 and they will need to be much better in run defense than they were last year.


Overall

South Florida finished 106th in the FEI defensive rankings last season. They had a major problem on pass defense last year so they’re switching from a base 3-4 to a 4-2-5 defense. The problem is that they haven’t recruited very well and they haven’t developed the talent that they have landed especially well. The defensive line has good size, but has not produced as of yet, the linebackers aren’t playmakers, and the secondary was so poor they’re moving to a completely different system.


Breaking Down the Special Teams


Projected Starters


Kicker

Emilio Nadelman

Punter

Mattias Ciabatti

Punt Returner

D’Ernest Johnson

Kick Returner

D’Ernest Johnson

Hassan Childs


How They Match Up With FSU

They don’t. The talent gap has only gotten wider since the last meeting between these two teams and it was already wide to begin with. Florida State has better players and coaching in every facet of the game. Even with Florida State replacing a ton of contributors on both sides of the ball, the players that are stepping into those roles were highly coveted recruits and the Florida State coaching staff has proven that they can prepare those players well—something that Taggart and the staff at USF haven’t been able to do.


Wayne’s Prediction: 42–6 (Win Probability: 95%)

Jason’s Prediction: 34–9 (win probability: 95%). I think the FSU offense will likely still be getting its sea-legs while breaking in a new quarterback at this point in the season and the defense will still be adjusting to new roles and personnel, but USF is toothless enough that it shouldn’t matter much.

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