Bulls face Notre Dame in season opener

As originally posted here.

The USF Bulls 2011 football season will kick off at Notre Dame on Sept. 3 in a nationally televised game. Afterwards, they will have a three-game home stand against the likes of Ball State, Florida A&M and University of Texas at El Paso.

They open up the Big East conference play at Pittsburgh on the way to a five-game stretch including a trip to Connecticut, the homecoming game against Cincinnati, then back on the road again against Rutgers and Syracuse. The Bulls wrap up the season with a three-game home stand against Miami and conference opponents Louisville and West Virginia.

Last year, the Bulls finished the season with an 8-5 record in Skip Holtz’s debut as head coach, and defeated Clemson, 31-26, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl. The Bulls won five of their last seven games to wrap up the season.

The Bulls had a shot at the conference title until a loss to Connecticut relegated them to the Car Care Bowl, again. This year will provide another challenge for Holtz and company, as they will have nine starters returning this year.

Quarterback B.J. Daniels returns in his junior year and while he had his share of problems adjusting under offensive coordinator Todd Fitch’s pro-style offense, another year under the system may improve his playmaking abilities and demonstrate his flashes of brilliance from his freshman year. Sophomore Bobby Eveld could see some more play if Daniels does not improve.

While the defense remains the strength of the team, ranking 16th overall, giving up an average of 318 yards a game, the offense remains the primary concern. They averaged 310 yards a game (165 yards passing and 145 yards rushing) last year, better than 15 teams in the country. Things could improve with a clean slate; three offensive starters return. The Bulls lost both the leading rusher and the leading receiver in Moise Plancher and Dontavia Bogan.

The Bulls’ backfield should be fine with the addition of Darrell Scott from Colorado and returning back Demetris Murray. Scott, who was ranked the No. 1 running back in the 2008 high school class by Rivals.com, drew some comparisons to LaDanian Tomlinson. Murray was the second leading rusher with 542 yards in 120 carries and 4 touchdowns.

With no clear candidate to lead the way, receivers could be interesting to watch. Evan Landi is the leading returning receiver—he had 390 yards on 28 receptions and two touchdowns. Receivers Lindsey Lamar and Terrence Mitchell look to anchor the return game. Kicker Maikon Bonani made 17 out of 21 attempts and returns to the team as a redshirt junior.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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