Last year was supposed to be the season that South Florida was going to be a Big East title contender, possibly winning the whole thing. And after the improbable upset over Notre Dame kicked off the season into a 4-0 start, it seemed very legit. Then conference play began where they were a pathetic 1-6.
All bowl prospects, let alone BCS bowls, over. This year some of the band might be back together, and have more seasoning under their belt, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to be high on the Bulls.
2011 was: the most mediocre of times. Their 5-7 overall, horrible in conference finish doesn’t do justice to just how disappointing this team was on some given Saturdays. Most people could have done a better stopping the pass than their secondary, which finished 83rd, and considering how weak the Big East is (these weren’t Pac-12 or Big 12 passing attacks they were facing), it’s a difficult feat to “accomplish.” Hats off to the run d though- fifteenth in the nation!
2012 will go smoothly if: B.J. Daniels is more than their quarterback, and does more than just pass the ball and run with it. He should finish with many major school passing and total offense records, but where’s the wins? There’s a new offensive coordinator and starters to break in at tailback and OL and some new blood at receiver. Will be interesting to see how it all meshes together. 3rd down conversion rate killed this team a year ago. If they fix that, they could be in the conversation.
2012 will be rough if: Their defense, especially against the run, isn’t the bulwark. With the addition of Aaron Lynch (when he’s eligible) that shouldn’t be a problem. The top recruit from Notre Dame, was ND’s leading pass rusher last season, and he defected from South Bend to be closer to home.
The Bulls were 39th in total d, 37th in scoring defense, so it needs to be “Bulls on Parade” again and with 7 returning starters it should be. This team just couldn’t close last year, losing four games my three points each, and another by six. If Daniels and company could convert more third downs, and chew up clock; they should get to a bowl.
BMOC: Daniels, Lynch, DE Ryne Giddins, LB Sam Barrington, LB DeDe Lattimore
All-name team: RT Quinterrius Eatmon, C Thor Jozwiak, CB Fidel Montgomery, SS JaQuez Jenkins, DL Guito Ervilus
Bottom Line: Reaching a bowl depends on them winning all their winnable games, by closing the deal. And converting on third down. They have enough talent to pull off a couple upsets and be a force in the conference. With all those starters returning to a decent defense, and the running game in decent shape, they should be okay. Maybe better.
Rankings Athlon- 34 Lindy’s- 57 Phil Steele- 34
All the 77s
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Chicago Tribune.com, Fox Sports, MSN, Walter Football and Yardbarker
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too