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2012 Big East Previews: USF with Voodoo Five

South Florida will try to win their fourth-straight bowl game in 2012 and are favorites to win the Big East. The Bulls have key non-conference games against Florida State (Sept. 29) and at Miami (Nov. 17). They are 13-4 all-time against in-state competition. Their biggest road matchup will be at conference foe Louisville (Oct. 20).

2011 Record: 5-7

2011 Bowl: N/A

2012 Bowl Projections:

Orlando Bowl History

N/A

Q&A with Jamie DeVriend at Voodoo Five

Describe the 2011 season in two words.

"Expletive deleted." In more than two words, it's this: USF went 5-7 and lost five games by six points or less... three on the last play of the game. It was the Bulls' first losing season since 2004, and even more of a collapse than we're unfortunately used to seeing. USF was 4-0 with a win at Notre Dame and ranked in the top 20 after four weeks of the season. To not even go bowling after that was stunning.

Through two seasons, what’s the biggest change that Skip Holtz has enacted on this team to make it his own?

Getting Skip Holtz was like giving the program a haircut. Jim Leavitt's teams were always talented, but shaggy and unshaven and a bit rough around the edges. On the plus side, they had a lot of personality, they wore their hearts on their sleeves, and it was easy to root for them. The problem was you could never shake the feeling that maybe things weren't completely under control. There would be off-the-field issues, or games with like 130 yards in penalties, or just plain bizarre meltdowns. Skip's teams are clean-cut and well-maintained. It doesn't make them the most charismatic team (or the easiest team to blog about), but I think it makes the program more stable.

With another year of development, will we see more consistency from BJ Daniels, or will the risk/reward trade always be a part of his game?

I think B.J. Daniels still carries his freshman year around with him, when he was running all over the place and throwing deep a lot. And since that was the last time a lot of casual fans saw USF play, and it followed three years of Matt Grothe doing the same thing, maybe they think Daniels is still a risk-taker. (ed. note: Guilty as charged!) Last year Daniels was actually pretty consistent. He limited his turnovers (only seven INTs), didn't do a lot of freelancing, and showed the ability to break out when given the chance. He broke the school record for passing yards in a game against Cincinnati when he threw for 409 yards. But like most of the team, he had some mistakes at inopportune times. The final offensive snap of the year for USF ended with him running for a likely first down against West Virginia in Mountaineers territory, then losing the ball without being touched.

On paper, what looks like the toughest game this season?

It's Florida State, easily. Although this is at least the 5th or 6th time that we've heard "FSU is back!" in the preseason, they're the most talented team that USF will face all year. The Bulls' home-field advantage will be somewhat negated by Seminoles fans and alums who already live in Tampa. And of course FSU remembers the Bulls coming into Tallahassee and upsetting them 17-7 in 2009, in B.J. Daniels's first collegiate start. There's no way USF sneaks up on them... although this is the type of game that USF historically seems to find a way to win.

Best case/worst case scenario for the postseason.

The best-case scenario is that USF takes advantage of a Big East that is obviously in flux, finally wins the league, and heads to the Orange Bowl or Fiesta Bowl. No one has ever questioned if they're talented enough to win the conference, only if they have the mental toughness and fortitude to make it happen. The worst-case scenario is nearly everything going against them again, limping home with a mediocre record and maybe no bowl at all, and suddenly Skip Holtz's job is on the line. We've all been burned too many times buying into USF hype, so I'm not even going to guess which end of that spectrum I think the Bulls will end up on this season.

One Question In The Other Direction

Can you say anything about the bowl's potential future with the Big East? I know Nick Carparelli said he's looking for a bowl to send the league's champion to after the BCS ends, and yours was the first bowl I thought of.

I can't, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. It's the same way I can't say anything about our ACC deal, or the Big Ten and SEC partnerships with the Capital One Bowl. Our Powers That Be will go to the table with reps from the conferences in the next 18 months to hammer out the future of the game. We value all of those relationships and certainly wouldn't be crying if we came back with the status quo. But given the massive shifts happening in college football's postseason (and likewise, the new face of the Big East in 2013 and their impending new television contract), the status quo isn't a given. So anything I say now would serve no long-term purpose besides making me look very silly down the road.

What I can say: the Big East has been a great partnership for us and we're going all-in for these next two years. Speaking about anything beyond that would be pure speculation on my part.

Thanks to Jamie and Voodoo Five for helping us out. Orlando would be an easy drive for USF fans so we hope to see them coming up I-4 some time soon.

About The Author

Matt Repchak
Matt Repchak

Matt (Tampa, Fla.) joined FCSports in 2005 after graduating from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He started in the communications department and gradually became the point person for all digital projects within the organization, including web, video and social.

Matt enjoys The Black Keys, Joss Whedon, Paul F. Tompkins and the Tampa Bay Rays.