1. What players will step up and emerge on the offensive line? There are many position battles to watch this spring, but none as important as the offensive line. The Bulls graduated three senior linemen in Sampson Genus, Jake Sims, and Jamar Bass who all played a lot of snaps for USF. With several spots open across the line, all eyes are on what players will step up and emerge as starters and impact players on the offensive line.
2. Which of last year’s redshirts will have a breakout season? The Bulls had a big class of redshirt freshmen last year with over 20 players getting the designation. Guys like Todd Chandler, Quinterrius Eatmon, Deonte Welch, Reshard Cliett and a bunch of other players who haven’t seen the field yet. Now is the time for us to see who has developed and is ready to make an impact for the spring and upcoming season.
3. How much of an impact will the 2010 transfers have? You’ve been hearing about the high profile transfers since last summer. Darrell Scott, the big 6-foot-1, 226 pound Colorado transfer who was the highest rated running back in ’08 and wowed us on the practice filed since he arrived. Dontae Aycock, a 5-foot-9, 230 pound transfer from Auburn that was a former local star at Chamberlain. He had knee surgery to alleviate pain from tendinitis in October and should be good to go. Spencer Boyd, 5-foot-9,175 pound transfer from Notre Dame is set to play cornerback this spring. Their transfer year is now complete and it’s time to see what they can do this spring.
4. Who will replace the losses of three senior starters on the defensive line this spring? With defensive tackle Terrell McClain, defensive ends Craig Marshall and David Bedford all gone, it’s time for the next great USF D-linemen to step up. The good news is that the Bulls rotated a lot of players so guys like Patrick Hampton, Cory Grissom and Keith McCaskill have plenty of experience and there are several young linemen like Ryne Giddins, JuJu Forte, Luke Sager and Demi Thompson that saw significant action in 2010. Now it’s time to see if they’ve become impact players.
5. How will QB B.J. Daniels respond to a full year in the new system? There’s no question that Daniels went through the ringer during the early parts of the season while learning the new system, but at the same time there’s no denying that he closed the season in a grand way against Clemson. Unlike last spring, the Bulls have two bona fide quarterbacks entering the spring in Daniels and true sophomore Bobby Eveld, who played admirably when Daniels went down. Redshirt Jamius Gunsby will add to the competition at quarterback as will spring enrollee Matt Floyd. But all eyes will be on the continued development of Daniels in the system and if he can fend off the other QBs.
6. Can the receiver unit be a force this spring with Dontavia Bogan gone? The receiving unit was a work in progress last season due mostly to the injuries of A.J. Love (Knee) and Sterling Griffin (Ankle) who both missed the entire season. Now that they’re healed, how they respond to action is the next question. The Bulls also have Evan Landi, Terrence Mitchell, Stephen Bravo-Brown, Faron Hornes, Isaac Virgin, Victor Marc, Joel Miller and T.J. Knowles, who all have another year under their belt and this will be the first spring for redshirt freshman Deonte Welch. How the unit developed will be keys to the Bulls passing game.
7. Who will be the next player to emerge at linebacker? When Jacquian Williams, Sabbath Joseph, and Donte Spires all graduated, the Bulls lost guys who played a lot of snaps and also lost several team leaders, which is never easy to replace. Sam Barrington, DeDe Lattimore, Mike Lanaris and Curtis Weatherspoon all have game experience, but replacing the depth is a question. A few players that have the inside track are spring enrollee Mike Jeune, redshirt freshmen Reshard Cliett, Hans Louis, and true frosh Antoine Pozniak, who also enrolled this spring.
8. Which player(s) will fill the void left by the departure of CB Mistral Raymond? Raymond switched from safety last summer and in turn became the Bulls best cover corner. With him now gone, who will replace his production is key to the secondary. Quenton Washington came on strong as the season progressed and is locked in. Next in line is Kayvon Webster, George Baker, Spencer Boyd, and Tyson Butler, all but Boyd have game experience. Ricardo Dixon is dealing with back issues so it will fall on the others to pick up the slack.
9. With the increased role of the Tight End/H-back position, who will be the next to step up? During the first year in the new offense the tight end/H-back position played a much bigger part. But with Richard Kelly, Kevin Gidrey, and Andrew Ketchel all gone, and Jeff Hawkins banged up. It’ll be interesting to see what players step up to fill the role that is so critical to the offense.
10. What changes will Holtz and staff implement this spring? With a full year under their belt it will be interesting to see what changes the coaches make to improve the team on offense and on defense. With the offense’s struggles last season, will Coach Fitch open up the playbook to make it more explosive and consistent, especially on third down and in the red-zone? The defense played very good in 2010, but what tweaks will Coach Snyder do to not only play at the same level, but to improve in every category, especially takeaways.