USF Bulls Preview 2022: Previewing, predicting, and looking ahead to the USF season with what you need to know and keys to the season.
USF Bulls Preview 2022
You’ll have to forgive USF if they’re feeling left out of the party.
The Big 12 is dropping the ball on this. It added Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF from the American Athletic Conference for next year – along with BYU – and it’s crazy not to bring aboard a big school in the Tampa market to expand the Florida footprint even more.
It’s easy to forget that expansion is about business and not necessarily about the short-sighted win-loss record, but of course USF would’ve been a bigger consideration for a move if it was rocking and rolling.
It’s not all that long ago when the program was strong, going bowling in 2018 and winning 21 games between 2016 and 2017. There’s no reason why it can’t get back to that level in a hurry.
Head coach Jeff Scott hasn’t been able to right the ship, but he’s been rebuilding. The coaching staff went through some changes, almost everyone is back, and despite a whole slew of transfer portal losses, the depth isn’t all that bad.
Now the wins have to come. The program is too good – and has too much to offer – to be this mediocre.
USF Bulls Preview 2022: Offense
The whole idea behind getting Jeff Scott as the head coach was to crank up the offense, but it hasn’t worked so far. The Bulls averaged just 351 yards and 23 points per game with everything being a tad strange.
The running game was a monster at times, the passing game was able to push it down the field a bit, and the pass protection wasn’t that bad, but there were too many times when things fizzled. On the plus side, there’s experience with ten starters back for new offensive coordinator Travis Trickett to work with.
The passing game has to get moving. Timmy McClain showed promise as a freshman, but he only threw five touchdown passes – the team threw six – with seven picks. He ran for four scores, but he wasn’t able to make the attack blow up.
On the way is Gerry Bohanon from Baylor – a big, veteran baller who ran for nine touchdowns and threw for 18 along with 2,200 for the Big 12 champ.
The wide receivers have to make more big plays. Xavier Weaver led the team with 41 catches and averaged a whopping 17.4 yards per catch, and he’s not alone with the top three targets back and helped by the addition of Ajou Ajou coming in from Clemson.
The offensive line wasn’t that bad. Of course it could be tighter in pass protection and at keeping defense out of the backfield, but this is a good-sized group that’s now loaded with depth – especially for the interior – thanks to the transfer portal. Left tackle Donovan Jenkins is a 6-5, 327-pound pro prospect, and 6-3, 309-pound senior Demetris Harris is coming off an All-AAC season.
The backs are in place with everyone of note back. Jaren Mangham was the team’s bright spot with 671 yards and 15 scores, Kelley Joiner was second on the team with 480 yards and showed some flash, and Brian Battle was an all-star kick returner averaging 32.5 yards per pop with three touchdowns.
USF Bulls Preview 2022: Defense
The offense has most of the returning talent, but the defense has veterans, too, with nine starters expected back for new defensive coordinator and longtime coach Bob Shoop.
The D has a ton of work to do after finishing 123rd in the nation allowing 476 yards and 35 points per game. The biggest problem was against the run, so …
The line gets some reworking. Nose tackle is the big hole – the size needs to be there – and that’s where the team literally went heavy in the transfer portal with five new guys coming in to work on the inside. Minnesota’s Rashad Chaney should be the best of the bunch.
Jason Vaughn will get the first look on one end after making 19 tackles, and it’ll be all about the rotation to find more than nine sacks from this D. Again, here’s where the transfer portal plays a role – Missouri’s Jatorian Hansford fits the potential as an edge rusher.
The 1-2 linebacking punch of Antonio Grier and Dwayne Boyles is as strong as any in the AAC. These two have been around for forever, Grier is coming of a team-high 92 tackles, and Boyles is a speedy veteran who can get all over the field and behind the line. The key will be to find a thumper in the middle to let the stars on the outside shine.
The secondary has to bust up more passes. The defense generated ten picks, but Daquan Evans is too good a corner to not do more. Overall this is one of the team’s most experienced areas with plenty of corners to play with. Safeties Vincent Davis and Mekhi LaPointe good tacklers who should combine for well over 150 stops.