You read the official One Foot Down previews of the South Florida Bulls yesterday, but if that wasn't enough, Ken DeCelles from Voodoo Five was kind enough to answer some of my questions. I did the same for him, which can be found here.
1. I don’t know if you knew this, but your head coach is the son of a rather famous coach at Notre Dame. How was the transition in Year One under Skip Holtz?
I don't think Skip could have handled it any better. This was a fractured roster after the Jim Leavitt was fired, and the delicate way Holtz mended the roster back together was nothing less than perfect. Skip taking the team over to Vero Beach for two weeks as a training camp not only helped get the team acclimated to the new system, but also to do teambuilding exercises.
On the field, Holtz knew that he could rely on the defense and special teams while the offense was still being molded around the unique skill set of Daniels.
The month off between the season finale against UConn and the bowl game against Clemson was huge for getting everything together. After a slow first couple of drives, B.J. had what probably is his finest game of the season. All in all a pretty solid year for the Bulls in Year 1 of the Holtz Era.
2. The strength of the Bulls last season seemed to be the defense. Who are the players Irish fans should look out for on the defensive side of the ball?
The first two players you should pay attention to are MIKE LB Sam Barrington and WILL LB DeDe Lattimore. Both are extremely athletic linebackers who totaled 150 stops between the two of them. If USF wants to win on Saturday, Lattimore, Barrington, and SAM Reshard Cliett will need to be able to stop the Irish running game to keep Notre Dame offense one dimensional.
DE Ryne Giddins is the highest rated recruit to ever sign at USF, and he has turned the corner after spring practice. The Bulls have been looking for a quality pass rusher since George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul left two years ago, and he has all the tools and now the mentality to be that guy.
CB Quenton Washington will be given the task of defending Michael Floyd. Q will give up a few inches to Floyd, but he is just as fast and agile and can get up in the air. Should be a fun matchup to watch all game.
3. B.J. Daniels is a very talented quarterback, but his numbers were rather lackluster last season under a new offense. How much of an improvement do you expect Daniels to make in his second year in the system?
I think he'll be much improved from last year. The depth at WR was pretty atrocious last season after injuries to Sterling Griffin and A.J. Love during the offseason. Skip was forced to use true freshman walk-ons along with converted quarterbacks, cornerbacks, and running backs at WR last season.
This year Daniels will have what might be the most talented group of wideouts we've ever had at USF. Everyone is back last year except for Dontavia Bogan, and Love and Griffin are both 100% and will start Saturday. There are also two true freshmen in Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez who have had great fall camps and will play Saturday.
Daniels will be able run more this season, and the modified option attack USF deployed against Cincinnati, Rutgers, and Clemson later in the season were amazing to watch.
4. The Bulls picked up former five-star recruit Darrell Scott via transfer from Colorado. How big of an impact do you think he’ll make this season? Should visions of Scott running free through the Irish secondary haunt my dreams?
It might be a two-headed monster of Scott and Demetris Murray. I've heard nothing but great things about Darrell ever since he stepped on campus and I think he is enjoying his 2nd chance here at USF. He is a big back at 239 lbs, but he is carrying the weight extremely well. When I went to DodgerTown to watch the team scrimmage he was able to move well laterally and once he got downhill there was really no stopping him.
The big question is how he will do picking up blitzes and being that complete back. Demetris is listed as a co-starter for a reason, and that's because Skip knows that Murray will be able to do all the little things when it comes to blitz recogonition and being able to catch the ball out of the backfield. Murray is also a pretty decent back as well, so don't be surprised if he has a solid day too.
Scott said earlier this fall that Vero helped him master the playbook, but we will have to wait until Saturday to see if that is the case. I'm optimistic he'll be more Andre Hall than Mike Ford, but we will find out soon.
I think so. Although people think the Backyard Brawl will settle things, I think the season finale in Tampa between USF and West Virginia will be for all the Tostitos. USF has always matched up well against the Mountaineers speed wise, and Raymond James will be insane if its the de-facto championship game.
6. Obligatory: Who ya got?
I make no qualms with being an unabashed homer. USF has made a living going into a hostile environment and pulling off the upset, and I have a feeling the Bulls will do the same thing on Saturday. The defense will keep things close, and Maikon Bonani will kick the game winner as time expires. Bulls win 17-14.
Thanks again to Ken and be sure to stop by Voodoo Five to
talk some trash wish them luck!