Top 10 Questions to be Answered This Season

USFNation came up with the 10 burning questions going into the 2006 season. Of course they won't be answered until every game is played, but this is what to look for as we get ready to open the season on September 2nd. Read on for the entire story.

1. Can Pat Julmiste put the past two seasons behind him and have a solid senior year?

PJ needs to come out of the gates firing, with Matt Grothe behind him Coach Leavitt is sure to have a short leash. If Julmiste could first improve his consistency, that would be a big step. He's proven he can make plays with his legs, but not through the air. In PJ's senior season it would be a storybook ending to have a good year and let the fans forget about his earlier poor performances.

2. Who will fill the shoes of Andre Hall?

Right now it looks like Ricky Ponton will be the every-down back, but Moise Plancher has been making noise ever since he stepped on campus. The only problem with Plancher is nagging injuries that forced him to miss the entire spring. No one player can replace Hall, but a mixture of Ponton and Plancher could fill the void.

3. Will Amp Hill and Amarri Jackson have breakout seasons?

Both players have been receiving lots of hype coming into the season. Jackson got his because of the flashes of greatness he showed last year, particularly in the Louisville game. Hill has gotten recognition mostly from his high school playing days. He was a big time recruit who went to LSU and transferred to USF after a devastating knee injury. The biggest need is for these two to become go-to type receivers. Players that will make the catch to bail out a bad throw, or stretch out an eight-yard slant into a 40+ gain. If both players become threats through the air it will help the entire offense, backing the defense off the line and open up the running lanes.

4. Can USF win the big game on the road?

The Bulls embarrassed Louisville at home this year, but now they have to travel to Kentucky and recreate the same electricity on the road. Last season USF struggled away from home especially in pressure situations, it was mostly nerves, but also conservative play calling sometimes put the Bulls in early trouble.

It depends how you look at it, but the fact that USF plays two crucial road games late in the season could give them more time to iron out the kinks. Regardless of scheduling dates, the fact is they will need to win at least two big games on the road in order to capture the Big East crown, something Coach Leavitt and staff feel is a realistic goal this season.

5. Will the defensive line be able to replace its graduating seniors?

With the losses of Jason Allen, Tim Jones, Terrence Royal and Jon Simmons the Bulls lost more than playmakers, they lost leadership. However, early signs show that George Selvie, Josh Julmiste, Jarriett Buie Allen Cray and Tavarious Robinson can get it done on the field, but it remains to be seen if they have the leadership qualities of the departed seniors. During the spring the D-Line unit as a whole dominated and if they can bring that same intensity and enthusiasm to the regular season, it would be reasonable to predict that USF could have two guys with 10+ sacks on the defensive line.

Josh Julmiste

6. Who will be the starting kicker?

Maybe the question should be "Can one kicker keep the job all season". With the departure of Kyle Bronson, Mike Benzer was supposed to take over as starter but a sub-par spring leaves the kicking duties in question. Benzer's main competition will be Justin Teachey and newcomer Delbert Alvarado. In the spring Teachey showed his leg, in one practice he knocked two 50+ yarders straight through the uprights, but he was inconsistent from shorter distances. Benzer is more consistent from short range. If Benzer could improve his kicking from 35-yards and deeper he would have the job, but if it doesn't improve, Teachey will earn the starting job.

7. Will the offense be more balanced this year?

Was it play calling or was it the fact that the Bulls had one of the top backs in the Big East. Whatever it was the offense must find balance to become successful. The running game will be essential in opening up the passing game and taking pressure off of Julmiste, but will they be able to adjust if they fall behind early? Last season there was a feeling of desperation whenever they were trailing by more than 10. It was also hard to take the ball out of Hall's hands when he was by far the best player on offense, this year there is no Hall and it will be up to the entire offense to make plays when they're down.

Coach Rod Smith caught the brunt of last season's offensive struggles.

8. Will all the off-the-field issues carry over to the regular season?

This is a legitimate concern after the craziness of this past off-season. Guys transferring, not reporting to camp, quitting after one practice, arrests and to top it off the QB named starter in the spring is now on his way to JUCO. With all that has happen, if there are no more distractions it's safe to say USF will be fine and put it all in the past. However, if these "issues" keep coming up in the regular season then there is no way 18, 19 and 20 year-old kids won't be distracted. All of this has been very uncharacteristic of a Jim Leavitt coached team and there is no doubt he will take extra strides to make sure it doesn't carry over to the '06 season.

Hill is off to JUCO

9. Is this the year the Bulls will breakout and prove to be legitimate contenders on a national level?

It all comes back to winning on the road. Also just as important is beating teams that they "should" beat. That means taking care of business against teams like Cinci, Rutgers, U Conn and Syracuse. Last year U Conn ripped the hearts out of South Florida fans by upsetting them on the road and dashing the hopes of any Big East championship game. If USF can beat the teams they should, win either of the two big road games (Louisville and West Virginia), then they will finally get the recognition they deserve on the national stage.

10 Can South Florida land "the big one" in recruiting?

This question won't be answered until February, but it all has to do with the product on the field this year. The win against Louisville did more for recruiting than any fancy facility or stadium ever could. That stuff only goes so far in the eyes of a recruit, they want to play for a winner and that's the bottom line. Last year USF went to the wire with Daron Rose and Javarris James, both of them opted not to go to USF and went to other major Florida schools. This year the Bulls are again chasing after a couple big-time prospects, but they need to remember what happens on the field will always be the best recruiting tool.

Will Garcia be the one?

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