The 19th ranked USF Bulls open their football season against San Jose State Saturday, as head coach Charlie Strong makes his Bulls debut.
The Bulls bring an electric offense to the game, led by dark horse Heisman candidate, Quinton Flowers. South Florida is also an early favorite to win the American Athletic Conference. There are few things I’m looking for in Saturday night’s game:
First of all, the running game to a hit when Marlon Mack left for the NFL. However, the Bulls were left in good hands as senior D’Ernest Johnson takes over the starting role. Johnson ran for 500+ yards with eight rushing touchdowns as well. With many eyes fixated on Flowers, watch for Johnson to break open the running game and take some pressure off of Flowers.
Coach Strong is known to be a defensive minded coach and the Bulls were ranked #120 in total defense last season. Leading tackler Auggie Sanchez is back for his senior year and is expected to captain this defense. The first challenge will be decreasing the points per game total, as the Bulls defense allowed 32.6 points per game in 2016.
The final thing to watch for is how cohesive the offensive line is going to be. The Bulls lost two starters in right guard Dominique Threatt and left tackle Kofi Amichia, both of whom played a key role in the success of the offense. Junior Eric Mayes is expected to take over for Amichia, just two years after converting from defensive lineman to the offense. Redshirt sophomore Brooks Larkin joins South Florida after transferring from Air Force Prep Academy, where Larkin saw action in two games as backup right guard.
Expectations are high for the Bulls after the first 11 win season in program history a year ago and Coach Strong is eager to start this season. South Florida will begin their quest to AAC glory against a San Jose State team that changed coaches after a 4-8 season.
Therefore, the Bulls are heavily favored to win, but they’ve traveled almost 3,000 miles and you never really know in opening games.