Happy Friday everyone. We are talking even more USF with the student radio voice of the Bulls, Josh Appel. He's also an intern for their website. It is very safe to say that I didn't ask him anything that would get him fired. But I did ask him a lot of questions about USF to get everyone ready for the game tomorrow night.
Be sure to follow Josh on twitter. My questions are in bold. We cover just about every subject one would could imagine.
Things haven't gone very well for the Bulls so far. But they do have Marcus Shaw who is in the top 15 for the nation in rushing and the top 36 in yards per carry. What makes Shaw go?
Shaw has great elusiveness and speed that allows him to explode through the first level of the defense. As much as the offensive line has struggled in pass protection, they’ve been pretty good in the running game. Shaw will be the first guy to credit the line that plays in front of him.
Would you say Shaw is the best player on the Bulls?
I would say so. If he isn’t, then he’s probably in the top 2. DeDe Lattimore would be the only player to push for that crown so far.
Quarterback has been an unstable position, but Steven Bench played all of the Miami game. What do you think he brings to the table that Bobby Eveld does not? Is he the guy for the rest of the season?
Bench brings a lot of mobility and a bit of a stronger arm. With Eveld, he was limited to the pocket and couldn’t really do much outside of it. With Bench, Taggart can run read options, triple options, or just regular designed quarterback runs because Bench gives you that threat on the ground. I think at this point, barring injury Steven Bench is the guy at QB for the rest of the season for USF.
Andre Davis has 14 receptions for 191 yards. He's nearly a third of the receiving game. Is he the only option in the passing game?
The passing game has been a huge inconsistency through four games. So really, it’s been tough to tell. But in theory, Sean Price and Mike McFarland, the tight ends, should be huge options in the passing game. Given the history of this Taggart and Walt Wells offense, it’s been surprising that the tight ends have been such a non-factor. However, USF just hasn’t been able to get the production at the QB position to get the ball around to any of the receivers. The offensive line has contributed to that as well. The quarterbacks don’t have that much time to find a guy and get the ball out.
The offensive line has given up 9 sacks the past two games. What do you think they'll do to try and quell the UC pass rush?
The Bulls have made a change along the offensive line at right guard. Domininque Threatt will start his second game of his career vs UC. Threatt held his own against a pretty good front 7 of Miami last week. They’ll try an unbalanced line a lot as well. We saw a glimpse of that against Miami last week and I expect to see more this week.
DeDe Lattimore seems to be up to his usual tricks of strong play with 40 tackles, a pick and a couple forced fumbles. How special a player is he?
I mentioned earlier that he might be the best player on the team along with Marcus Shaw. He’s an unbelievable asset to this team. He’s a captain for his senior season and this team will miss him a lot when he graduates. He’s great against the run and can play effectively on special teams. He also serves as a mentor for freshman Nigel Harris who has inserted himself in the starting lineup and stuck after leading the team in tackles in his debut versus FAU. So DeDe is huge on the field and serves a big purpose off the field as well.
Teams have moved right down the field against the USF defense. But teams did that against Miami and Cincinnati struggled. What's the biggest area the Bulls have to tighten up?
They have to sure up the passing game, cut down on turnovers and improve third down efficiency. It’s that simple. The offense has been what has held this team back. They’ve turned the ball over for touchdowns six times and only scored six for themselves. It’s been pretty unbelievable. So of course they need to cut down on that. But they haven’t gotten anything going in the passing game and they just haven’t been able to sustain anything because of that.
Obviously things are not going well for South Florida. Have you seen progression with the team? Are there positive signs for the building of the program?
There has definitely been progression with the team. And that hasn’t all been football-wise. The entire attitude has changed with this team thanks to Taggart. The staff knows what is going on. They know it’s a rebuilding process. Did they expect 0-4? Probably not. But there are definitely positive signs. The freshman who have seen time have all played well and their futures look bright. If Coach Taggart brings in those type of players consistently, then this team will be good. And soon.
A thousand thanks to Josh Appel, the student voice of the South Florida Bulls. If you need to listen to the game on radio in South Florida, be sure to find his station and tune in.