17 South Florida - Sports Illustrated Vault | SI.com
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17 South Florida

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OPPOSING COACH'S TAKE

The motor of the whole team is [6-foot, 210-pound senior quarterback] QUINTON FLOWERS. There were a lot of times last year when schematically they were not quite together, and Quinton could erase some of those issues. Even when you assign a spy to him, he can make that one guy miss. There are not many teams in this league that have somebody that can get him on the ground when it's one-on-one and he's flushed out of the pocket. He needs to be treated like a running back in the run game, and in the passing game, he's going to make his plays. D'Ernest Johnson [a 5'10", 208-pound senior running back] will be as good in the running game as Marlon Mack was last year because Johnson won't miss a read. He'll make the offensive line better.

They force a lot of fumbles, and they recover just about all of them [11 of 14 in '16] because of their team speed. [Senior] Deatrick Nichols was the hardest cornerback for us to get open on in the league last year. Overall, the pass defense wasn't as bad as people think. They're a big-play offense, and because they scored so fast, their defense played more plays than the offense.

Under coach Charlie Strong, you're probably going to see more penalty discipline and a little more physicality at the line of scrimmage.

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % (28TH)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT (23RD)

COMPLETION % (19TH)

YARDS PER CARRY (2ND)

SACKS ALLOWED (14TH)

TURNOVERS LOST (35TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE (7TH)

YARDS PER PLAY (6TH)

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS (1 TO 128)

[The following text appears within an illustration. Please see hardcopy or PDF for actual illustration.]

THIRD-DOWN CONVERSION % ALLOWED (63RD)

YARDS PER PASS ATTEMPT ALLOWED (67TH)

COMPLETION % ALLOWED (82ND)

YARDS PER CARRY ALLOWED (84TH)

SACKS (38TH)

TURNOVERS GAINED (18TH)

POINTS PER DRIVE ALLOWED (69TH)

YARDS PER PLAY ALLOWED (76TH)

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RATING

28

The Bulls could be the Group of Five team to run the table and steal a playoff spot—but their best nonconference opponent is Illinois (9/15), so they'll need chaos in the Power 5. In November they host Houston (11/4) and Tulsa (11/16), then visit rival UCF (11/24).

THE PLAYER TO KNOW

Wide receiver MARQUEZ VALDES-SCANTLING caught only 22 passes in his first season of eligibility after transferring from N.C. State, but five of those catches went for touchdowns, tying him for the team lead with his former high school teammate Rodney Adams. Valdes-Scantling, with his lanky 6'5", 207-pound frame and straight-line speed, also showed that he can be a home run threat, averaging 18.9 yards per catch. USF's offense should still revolve around Quinton Flowers's legs, but if Valdes-Scantling can deliver consistently enough in his senior season to handle a high-volume role, he should emerge as his quarterback's new favorite target.