Bill Connelly has released his USF football preview, and since South Florida is on Florida State's schedule, it's time to check them out. Some things to know about USF football, which visits Florida State on September 12.
The Bulls will play hard. The game will mean more to them than it will to FSU's players. FSU's players had offers from USF, USF's players did not from FSU. If you watched USF in 2014, you likely noticed they did not always give a damn, but the damn will be given in this game.
Because of that, this game might be closer than some experts think. But it still won't be close. USF has not won a game against an FBS team by more than a touchdown since 2011. They do not have a proven QB (the returning options were awful in 2014) or any proven receivers, though the running backs are nice.
Here are some more takeaways from Bill's piece, which you should read in full.
On defense, look for USF to get better against the pass and worse against the run now that they are switching to a 4-2-5.
USF's defense was reasonably solid against the run last year. The success rates weren't amazing, but the Bulls limited opponents' big-play capabilities (only seven rushes of 30-plus yards, only one of 50-plus) and created a lovely push in short-yardage situations. They basically forced opponents to the air to sustain any offense.
The problem was that, when opponents went to the air, only the air provided resistance. USF had the second-worst Passing Success Rate+ in the country despite a decent pass rush. Four of the top nine in the secondary were freshmen, and three were sophomores, and the unit was simply not ready to make plays.
It would take quite a few ifs to turn this team around in 2015, but all of the ifs seem semi-realistic on their own. Quinton Flowers could become a solid dual-threat quarterback who connects on just enough of his passes to free up space for Marlon Mack. The offensive line could improve by simply keeping the same unit on the field from week to week. The run defense could be as good or better than it was last year, and the secondary could improve with typical year-to-year improvement for the young players and a change in scheme. That could all happen, and it could at least threaten to drag USF back out of the triple-digits in the rankings.