Skip Holtz expects big things from B.J. Daniels.
By: Athlon Sports | 6/8/11, 3:00 PM EDT
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#35 South Florida
Big East PREDICTION
HEAD COACH: Skip Holtz, 8-5 (1 year) | OFF. COORDINATOR: Todd Fitch | DEF. COORDINATOR: Mark Snyder
South Florida coach Skip Holtz expects big things from junior quarterback B.J. Daniels. Partially to avoid risk due to a lack of depth, Holtz put Daniels in a “bubble” last season, somewhat restricting his freelance style. Daniels still made big plays but was haunted by some horrible decisions. He had 13 interceptions, although only three occurred in the final six games. It all came together in the bowl victory against Clemson (20-of-27 for 189 yards). And now he has a trusted backup in sophomore Bobby Eveld, a former walk-on who is more of a drop-back passer.
On paper, the Bulls have enviable depth at running back, maybe more than any other time in program history, but much of it is unproven. The headliner is junior Darrell Scott, a Colorado transfer who was ranked as the nation’s No. 1 high school running back recruit in 2007. At receiver, the Bulls are bolstered by the return of senior A.J. Love (torn ACL), granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA, and sophomore Sterling Griffin (dislocated ankle), who missed all of last season.
Holtz says he believes there’s enough front-line talent and depth on the offensive line to comprise an effective unit, but he might be toying with some mix-and-match possibilities in order to find the five best players for starting roles.
The Bulls will miss ultra-productive defensive tackle Terrell McClain, who headed to the NFL. But they should be two-deep at each position along the line. Holtz is particularly excited about the potential of sophomore Ryne Giddins and senior Claude Davis at end.
At linebacker, the Bulls are moving junior Sam Barrington from the middle to the strong side, allowing productive junior Michael Lanaris, stuck in a logjam, to join the starting lineup. On the weak side, the Bulls are set with DeDe Lattimore, a Freshman All-American in 2010 who was the team’s second-leading tackler.
Meanwhile, three of the four starters (and seven of the top eight players) are returning in the secondary. Senior free safety Jerrell Young leads a fleet of big-play performers.
Junior placekicker Maikon Bonani has connected on 32-of-42 field goal attempts during his career, including a pair of sudden-death game-winners, highlighted by last season’s 37-yarder that beat Louisville in overtime. At punter, the Bulls could go with redshirt freshman Chris Veron over junior holdover Justin Brockhaus-Kann, whose production slipped late in the season.
For the first time in program history, the Bulls won at Cincinnati and Louisville. They defeated Rutgers, a long-time nemesis. They defeated in-state rival Miami in a thrilling 23–20 overtime game. The Bulls played in their sixth consecutive bowl game and are now one of four programs to win their last three postseason appearances.Guess what’s next on the to-do list?
Since joining the Big East in 2005, the Bulls have envisioned themselves as a potential conference powerhouse. And why not? With a fertile home-state recruiting ground fueling the program’s growth, South Florida seemingly has been holding a ticket to a BCS bowl appearance. The Bulls might finally be ready to cash in.
“I’d probably prefer to be where we were last year (picked for the middle of the pack), but I’m not going to downgrade my players,” Holtz says. “If we start the year fast, we’ve got a chance.”