Towson is looking to continue on track after bouncing back from a 4-8 campaign in 2014, with a solid 7-4 record a season ago. The Tigers struggled to score points in 2014, averaging just 16.1 points per game, but dialed up the offensive production in 2015 by averaging 23.6 points per game.
The Tigers fell to ECU 28-20 in the 2015 opener, received a shellacking at home against James Madison 51-30, and lost a tight contest against William and Mary down the stretch 31-17 to finish 7-4 (5-3). The Tigers enter the season ranked No. 24 in the STATS Preseason Media Poll and just outside the Top 25 in the FCS Coaches Poll.
The Tigers return 10 offensive starters from 2015, including six offensive linemen and aforementioned star halfback, Darius Victor. Victor, who is named after the Godfather, dashed for 1,021 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2015 notching his second consecutive 1,000-yard rushing season.
Victor viciously pounds the rock in between the tackles with his 5-foot-8, 227-pound frame, and will be an early test for USF middle linebacker Auggie Sanchez. Victor was named a STATS Preseason Third-Team All-American, as well as being named to the Preseason First-Team All-CAA at the league's annual media day back in July.
After losing quarterback Connor Frazier and Miami transfer Kevin Olsen (violation of team rules), the Tigers picked up Oregon transfer, Morgan Mahalak, as the next man under center.
Mahalak is a redshirt sophomore for the Tigers after never taking a single snap for the Ducks. Mahalak redshirted his freshman season and served as the scout team's quarterback last year.
Long story short: Great running back, inexperienced quarterback, and only one noteworthy returning wide receiver in Andre Dessenberg. The Bulls' defense should have no problem asphyxiating Towson.
Towson’s defense lost its top two ball hawks, Alfo Augustine and Mike Kelly, and only returns eight starters from a season ago. The Tigers lost their leading tackler Donnell Lewis (62), but return three of the top four tacklers in Jordan Mynatt (60), Eric Handy (58), and Chris Tedder (55).
Regardless, the dominant USF backfield of Marlon Mack, D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice will force the group to creep up, allowing Quinton Flowers ample time to dissect the secondary or take off for big yardage. I see the Bulls' ‘Gulf Coast’ offense slamming the pedal to the floorboard in the first series and throttling the Tigers with South Florida speed.
Speaking of South Florida, the lone Florida native on the Towson roster is none other than former USF Bull place kicker, Tyler Williams, from my hometown of Naples, FL. Here’s a video of Williams knocking down some deep shots at the Morsani Football Complex back in April.
Towson will not prove to be a tough matchup for the Bulls when the Tigers travel to Tampa Sept. 3rd. I think the contest will be decided in the first half, with backups getting plenty of playing time in the second half.
What say you Bulls Nation?