USFNation.com Preview: The Backfield

USFNation.com takes a closer at the University of South Florida's stable of running backs and quarterbacks for the upcoming 2014 season.

We know coach Taggart will execute a running back by committee approach, presumptively between returners Michael Pierre, Darius Tice and possibly Sta'fon McCray, who redshirted in 2013. All of the above possess the stature preferred by coach Taggart and his north-south style. What the Bulls are missing is the homerun hitter, but in my opinion, the drought has come to end.

The early favorite of the incoming freshman running backs seems to be Marlon Mack out of Sarasota-Booker. While I’m certainly not counting Mack out in any way period, I believe D’Ernest Johnson will also see touches as a true freshman in 2014. Johnson, who hails from Immokalee, worked hard in the offseason and arrived this summer with the size necessary to be impact player for Willie’s Bullies. Johnson possesses both the grit to run inside and the afterburners to torch the opposition to the end zone.

We will not know until it all unfolds in Fall camp if it will be Johnson or Mack, but USF fans should be optimistic about the backfield bursting at the seems with talented underclassmen.

Quarterback play was certainly an issue in 2013, leaving first-year head coach Willie Taggart playing Russian roulette with four different starters, three of which to no avail. Just how bad? The first three quarterbacks combined went just 73 for 180… that’s 40.6% folks. How did White do? White played six games and went 93 for 175 or 53.1% as a true freshman.

You catching my drift? Though White’s promise was not entirely evident in 2013, look for the second-year quarterback to make a big leap in the right direction after beefing up this spring. White returns with six games under his belt, but after an impressive spring game look for some push from Penn State transfer Steven Bench.

While Bench may somewhat give White a run for his money during fall camp, in the end I fully anticipate White will be the man under helm in 2014. Additionally, I am 99% sure true freshman Quinton Flowers will redshirt, assembling the necessary depth for the Bulls to sustain long-term success.

In the end, South Florida has a stable of inexperienced quarterbacks and running backs in an offense that finished dead last in the NCAA in 2013 with just 11 offensive touchdowns. An offense, mind you, able to muster just 13.8 points per game. What will we see in 2014?

Despite numerous negative stances in various preview publications, I believe the fruits of the ‘face of the franchise’s’ labor will come to fruition in 2014. Bowl bound you say? That is at best uncertain. The first winning season in recent memory? The world will know by October and I’m all in on Coach Taggart, even if it’s against the house.


Bulls Daily Top Stories