1) Can Matt Grothe avoid the sophomore slump?
Maybe not a slump, but Grothe sure didn't have the season most were expecting. Last year Grothe threw one more TD than he did INT, this year he was even at 14 a piece. All year Matt was plagued by inconsistent play by the wideouts and toward the end of the year it was a task just to find 5 healthy WR's for USF's spread offense. Although he was inconsistent, Grothe did lead the team to two landmark victories. The first, on the road against Auburn and the second was in front of a sell-out crowd against number 5 ranked West Virginia.
Despite a poor TD to INT ratio this year, Grothe has taken the USF program to heights it's never seen and put them on a national stage. The future is bright and with another year of experience under his belt, Matt will once again be the go-to guy in USF's exciting offense.
2) Will the offense look different under new Offensive Coordinator Greg Gregory?
Not really. The Bulls still ran a shotgun spread-option attack and utilized the QB draw just as much as the year before. While Matt did run for less yards than the year before he also threw for more in '07. The reason was -- he had a backfield that could carry the load. Even though Matt still lead the team in rushing, in '06 the second most yards on the ground went to Benjamin Williams with just over 400. This year Mike Ford rushed for 645 yards while Ben Williams still chipped in with 425.
Gregory took more shots down field and it paid-off, USF put up big numbers, scoring 30 points or more in 7 games. Including a 64 point performance against UCF and 55 points in a blowout against Louisville.
3) Who will emerge as the play-making running back?
This question will have to carry over to the 2008 season. While Mike Ford certainly showed that potential, he wasn't used enough to be considered a true "play-maker". Maybe because he was a freshman, or maybe he wasn't ready to carry the load, but for whatever reason Ford was never given the chance to dominate a game start-to-finish.
The 2007 season set the stage for a break-out year in '08. Ford averaged 4.7 yards a carry when he did get the ball. The Bulls are moving in the direction of a power running attack and Mike Ford will be the centerpiece of that next season.
Who will fill the void at PR/KR that was left by Ean Randolph?
That void is still wide open. The Bulls mainly used Marcus Edwards to return punts and Jerome Murphy, Taurus Johnson and at the end Mike Jenkins to return kicks. Besides Jenkins game against Cincinnati where he returned one kick for a touchdown and nearly brought another one beck, there weren't many highlights to mention.
While Edwards was reliable fielding punts he only averaged 7.5 yards on 31 attempts with his longest being just over 30 yards. Ammari Jackson, who had success early in his career as a punt returner was not much better. He averaged 14 yards per return on only 6 tries and his longest went for 37 yards.
Next year the Bulls could try Theo Wilson or a young guy like Tyson Butler. This will be a good question to ask heading into this year's spring practice.
How long will it take the linebackers to be a dominant unit this year?
Not too long. Right from the start the Moffitt, Mompremier, McKenzie unit gelled, not only that but these three combined for 308 tackles on the year. Imagine what they could have done with a little more beef at defensive tackle!?!
All three came up with big plays at key times during the year. Maybe the most memorable play was Ben Moffitt's game-changing interception and touchdown return against West Virginia. That play set the tone for a great game by all three linebackers, Mckenzie had 9 tackles and a forced fumble in that game and Brouce chipped in with 7 solo's of his own.
From beginning to end, all three had exceptional season's and a key to that was health. While all positions were banged up at some point in the season, this trio of linebackers didn't miss a game.
Answering 10 Burning Questions: 1-5
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