South Florida Preview: Offense

The USF offensive unit this year will present a different look as compared to last year's ball club. Last year's club was more of a run-oriented team. They used the run to set up the pass with big-play threats. But with the loss of RB Andre Hall to graduation, plus the loss of the two expected TB replacements, the offensive production has fallen squarely on the shoulders of QB Matt Grothe.

Grothe, who beat out incumbent Pat Julmiste, has been effective with his running and passing ability. He has accounted for 67% of the total offense. He is the player the Scarlet Knights must stop to be successful Friday night.

QB - The offense will be run by RS Freshman Matt Grothe (see image to the right/below). When watching Grothe's HS film, he could be described as "Ryan Hart with wheels". He is a very accurate passer in the intermediate game, manages games well, but is also a dangerous runner. Thus far, he has a passer rating of 137 and is completing passes at a 60% clip - he can put up big numbers as well. In an earlier game against in-state rival UCF, he threw for 302 yards. In addition, due to the loss of USF's top 2 returning RBs and subsequent struggles with the running game, Grothe has become the team's leading rusher. He is averaging 70 yards per game on the ground. He is a dangerous playmaker, but is young. Expect the Scarlet Knights to take their chances defensively and try to rattle this youngster early.

RB - USF lost All-Big East RB Andre Hall to graduation. Hall had a monster game against Rutgers last year, rushing for 168 yards. He also was a big problem on 3rd down and short yardage. As a result, USF was 8-for-18 on 3rd down conversions and won the time of possession battle. When Rutgers would put 7 in the box, Hall could not be stopped. When RU came in to put 8 or 9 in the box to stop Hall, their big WRs would be 1-on-1 with the CBs and they were successful through the air. Also impressive in that game was the expected heir-apparent, Ricky Ponton. Ponton rushed for 36 yards on 7 carries. Well, this year there is no Hall. Ponton has been suspended for the first six games for a 2nd failed drug-test. And the next stud in the backfield, Moises Plancher, tore his ACL in game 1. So. Benjamin Williams gets the start at RB and he comes into the game with only 100 yards rushing in 4-games. Thus, this USF team loses a big-dimension offensively. And the threat to control the time of possession will be diminished.

WR/TE - USF uses a 3-WR set and these guys have major skill. 5'9" Sr. Ean Randolph, who replaces suspended star WR Jackie Chambers, has emerged as the top playmaker at Y-WR position. He has had 10-catches over the last 2-games. He had 126 yards receiving against UCF. He is also one of the top return men in the Big-East and ranks 4th nationally in punt returns. 6'3" SJ Green is a 3-year starter for USF, but because of the stellar play of the younger receivers, has had a quiet year thus far with only 3-catches. And those younger receiver go by the name of Taurus Johnson and Marcus Edwards. The 6'1" So. Taurus Johnson is a big play threat with big-time speed. In 3 games this year, he has 12 catches for 193 yards. The 5'11" So. Marcus Edwards is an athletic and dangerous WR. Edwards, who was a highly touted WR in last year's recruiting class, has 13 catches for 163 yards and 2 TDs this year. 6'5" Amari Jackson has the potential to be one of the more electrifying WRs RU faces this year. He has incredible size and speed and gave RU fits in man to man coverage last year. In that game he had 7 catches for 68 yards and several key first down recpetions. He will continue to present match-up problems on Friday night and beyond. He has 7-catches thus far and is looking for a break-out game. LSU transfer, 6'3" 200lb Amp Hill, was one of the top-10 WR in the country coming out of high-school. He has gotten off to a relatively slow start with only 7 catches for 89 yards. But his playing time is beginning to increase and his talents must be accounted for. Sr. TE Will Bleakley is a big guy and considered a solid blocker. He gets an occassional pass thrown his way and has 3 catches on the season. Henceforth, this group of WRs will be a major match-up for the Rutgers secondary. Rutgers must send and put pressure on Grothe and keep the ball out of the hands of these playmakers, because these guys can put points on the board in a hurry.

OL- The USF OL consists of a big, athletic group. Three players, Marc Dile, Walter Walker and Thed Watson all started against RU last year. They are all in the 6'4" 300 lb range and can run. One of the more highly touted recruits in USF history, OG Jake Griffith, was expected to be a major force this year. Unfortunately, he went down early in the year with an injury. Griffith is replaced by So. Matt Huners. 6'3" Jr. Nick Capogna starts at the center position and is someone USF fans feel good about. Overall, while USF has focused significantly on the passing game, this unit has allowed 8-sacks during the first 4 games played this season (tied for #61 nationally; on the flip-side, Rutgers has recorded 10 sacks thus far placing them in a tie for #34 nationally). This unit will be a major test for the undersized Scarlet Knight defensive line. RU must use its speed, athleticism and provide different looks in order to beat this group up front.

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