USF Bulls Season Preview


Nov 16, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; South Florida Bulls wide receiver Chris Dunkley (88) runs with the ball against the Memphis Tigers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

South Florida’s first season under Willie Taggart did not go as envisioned.

The Bulls had a horrendous season that saw them go 2-10. All but one of their losses were by double digits.

USF are trying to rebuild a once budding program that had them as high as number 2 in the BCS Standings in 2007. However, the Bulls haven’t had a winning season in three years which concluded by winning the Meineke Car Care Bowl at the conclusion of the 2010 season.

Now with Mike White under center and lots of talented, but inexperienced players, the Bulls are looking to move back up the AAC standings.


The Bulls have a number of their wide receivers returning which Andre Davis of course leads. However, the burden needs to be taken off of Davis somewhat so Deonte Welch, Sean Price, transfer Rodney Adams and others need to be more of a threat in the passing game. But the point is that USF have depth and talent there.

The Bulls have regularly had standout players on the defensive line, none more so than current New York Giant Jason Pierre-Paul. They lost Aaron Lynch, Julius Forte and Ryne Giddins but still have seniors Todd Chandler Elkino Watson manning the line.

The Bulls also have a very good kicker in Marvin Kloss and an extremely talented group of defensive backs, but a vast majority of them are underclassmen.


Quarterback play for the Bulls isn’t going to be as bad as last year but it’s still a major question mark for the team. Mike White has been named the starter while Steven Bench will back him up. Bulls coaches, and fans for that matter, are going to have to be very patient again this year when it comes to their quarterback. Having said that, White beat out Bench for the job and has looked good during practice.

The Bulls lost starting running back Marcus Shaw, meaning sophomore Darius Tice is pencilled in as the starter. USF are very inexperienced at running back so don’t be surprised to see a number of players used throughout 2014.

Three Players to Watch

Mike White – All eyes are going to be on the sophomore quarterback this season. White started the final five games of 2013 and threw for 1,083 yards with three touchdowns and nine interceptions. If the Bulls are to have a respectful 2014 season they are going to need steady and consistent play from White. If he struggles though, Steven Bench is waiting in the wings to take over.

Oct 31, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; South Florida Bulls quarterback Mike White (14) passes against the Houston Cougars during the second half at Reliant Stadium. Houston won 35-23. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports

Reshard Cliett – The senior is the leader of the defense for the Bulls and rightfully so. Cliett had 56 tackles last season and is primed to have an even bigger season. Cliett is being listed as one of the outside linebackers to watch this season and is high on many NFL prospect lists and is projected to be a late round draft pick.

Andre Davis – Davis is second on USF’s all-time receiving yards list and just 106 behind Carleton Mitchell. Last season, Davis had 49 catches for 735 yards but only two touchdowns. He can do better. Also, with it being his final year of college football he’ll be looking to attract the scouts’ eye as he is currently projected to be a late round draft pick in 2015.

Three Can’t Miss Games

Nov. 28 vs Central Florida – The Bulls battle their conference and in-state rival in the final game of the season. UCF defeated USF 23-20 in the penultimate game of the season last year. This game will likely have large implications as USF could have a chance to play spoiler as UCF are one of the favourites for the AAC title. USF nearly pulled it off last season and could well have another chance at the end of 2014.

Aug. 30 vs Western Carolina – In terms of who the Bulls are facing it may not be glamorous but it is still the season opener for USF. Furthermore, it’s the first of four straight home games to begin 2014 and it’s paramount USF win this game. Maryland, NC State and Connecticut all visit after so a win on opening day could well set USF up for a good start to the season.

Oct. 24 @ Cincinnati – This will be one of USF’s toughest games this season but it will be a good measuring stick for Taggart’s men. The game is also played on a Friday night and will be broadcast on ESPN2 so the Bulls will get to play on national television. It’ll be the Bulls eighth game of the season and if they can come into the game around .500 then the Bulls may just fancy their chances against one of the AAC favourites.


The Bulls will be better than last season but they still aren’t quite ready to compete for the AAC crown. Taggart has said he wants to see this team make a bowl game, which is achievable, but it may just be out of reach this year. The Bulls will hover around .500 for the season but finish slightly below with five wins and miss out on a bowl game.