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USF analysis

By Times Staff
Published September 1, 2006


QUARTERBACK

Senior Pat Julmiste has 23 starts but has never been consistent. Redshirt freshman Matt Grothe will play early and could step in if Julmiste falters. The Bulls have 16 passing touchdowns in the past two seasons, and that number must improve.

RUNNING BACK

Gone is Andre Hall. With sophomore Ricky Ponton set to miss at least two games for violating team rules, the job of filling Hall's shoes falls to redshirt freshman Moise Plancher. Hall was the team's top receiver last fall, so look for lots of passes headed to the running backs as well. Watch for freshmen Aston Samuels and Keeley Dorsey, who both could play right away.

WIDE RECEIVERS

Great depth, but the Bulls need a playmaker to emerge. Is it junior Amarri Jackson, right, hero of last year's Louisville win? Watch out for two unsung seniors, S.J. Green and former walk-on Ean Randolph, who aren't flashy but could be the most reliable of the group. Green and tight end Cedric Hill are the only returning players who caught touchdown passes last year.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Three starters are gone, and all five jobs are up for grabs. If left tackle Thed Watson redshirts, nobody will have more than five career starts, but that means there are no seniors in the group. Junior Jared Carnes, huge at 6 feet 8, 315 pounds, has impressed.

 

DEFENSIVE LINE

Biggest question mark on the team, though young ends Josh Julmiste, George Selvie and Jarriett Buie are exciting prospects. USF must find a reliable pair of tackles inside, where depth is a major concern. Solidifying this is a must to complete the defense.

LINEBACKERS

Easily the team's strongest position, with seniors Stephen Nicholas and Pat St. Louis and junior Ben Moffitt returning with two years' experience working together. Backups are untested, but the starting three are the Big East's best linebacker unit.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Another strong position, with cornerbacks Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams in their third year as starters. Great depth at safety, with sophomore Danny Verpaele returning from a foot injury with 15 pounds added since his freshman year.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Almost entirely new, with long-snapper Ryan Bordeau the only returning starter. Sophomore Mike Benzer should be the kicker, with freshmen Ilia Petrov and Delbert Alvardo battling at punter. A slew of speedy receivers will contribute on returns.

- GREG AUMAN, Times staff writer