Chat overfloweth: USF mailbag, Part I
Good morning -- catching up here after two days off with family while team was in Vero and I wasn't. Lots of potential news coming today -- the Times' John C. Cotey tweeted Saturday night that it looks like USF might be the new home for former Nebraska offensive tackle Tyler Moore, who is leaving the Huskers after one year. It would be a huge get for Bulls at close to the Aaron Lynch level, with three years of eligibility left after sitting out this season. There are two other locals who logically could wind up at USF in former Florida receiver Ju'Juan Story and former Notre Dame offensive lineman Jordan Prestwood. Again, lots of calls out to see who if any late additions could help the Bulls.
Thursday's live chat drew a ton of questions from you guys -- answered them for more than two hours and still had enough left to fill a few mailbag-type blog posts here. I'm back home, but will be back over Monday for coverage from the first scrimmage, where should see the first chance to guys to make some changes on the depth chart. Onto your questions ...
Guest asked: "Would you be surprised if Montgomery would emerge as a starter at some point this season like Davis did?"
As talented as freshman D'Vario Montgomery has already shown himself to be, I wouldn't be that surprised if he emerged as a starter later in the season once he's gotten his bearings. In the last two years, injuries have pressed freshmen into starting roles -- remember, Stephen Bravo-Brown started some in 2010, and Davis improved last year, but his starting was also a function of injuries around him. If USF's receivers stay healthy, it'll be harder for Montgomery to jump ahead into a starting role, only because of the depth of quality, experienced guys around him.
Stew asked: "Any thoughts on USF Soccer's upcoming season and getting ranked #5 nationally?"
George Kiefer's team has had USF's best postseason success in the Big East era, with a pair of Elite Eight appearances, so a top-10 ranking isn't any surprise. The biggest concern is probably in goal, where USF has had two great keepers in Jeff Attinella and then Chris Blais last season. It looks like Eric Osswald is in line to take over there, and the Bulls also need to find a scorer to replace Dom Dwyer, who was Big East Offensive Player of the Year. That could be a player from last year who just steps into a more prominent role, or a newcomer like Edwin Moalosi or Samu Hosseini. Again, expectations are as high for men's soccer as any program on campus, with some key home matches ahead.
Guest asked: "How would you read into Hargreaves and Smith not getting raises but the others getting one? Anyone else not getting a raise?"
We posted details last week of how Skip Holtz elected to use the $200,000 allotted to him for raises for his full-time assistants -- the short version is big raises for coordinators Todd Fitch and Chris Cosh and raises for former Leavitt assistants Larry Scott and Kevin Patrick, but little or no change for five other assistants. It's a tough decision for Holtz, but just remember that most of these assistants have been with Holtz for a long time across multiple schools -- they like working with him, and with the exception of newcomer Jerome Pathon, are all making six-figure salaries. Holtz has to decide on a split that optimizes his staff, both for rewarding his best and for maintaining stability among his coaches. He seems to have done a fine job of that in the past.
Red asked: "Any recent follow-up on how former players or coaches are doing coaching HS, etc? I recently saw Johnie Jones got named Head Coach at Booker I believe?"
I haven't done a big list like we did a few years back, but still a ton of former Bulls coaching in high school and college. As you mentioned, Johnnie Jones is one, though for now he's just the interim head coach at his alma mater, Sarasota Booker. Traded emails last night with Tchecoy Blount, who is now the co-defensive coordinator and defensive line coach at Tampa Jesuit. Another former Bull, Brian McNulty, is the o-line coach there. They're working with a pair of future Bulls in commitments Cameron Ruff and Robby Garcia.
Guest asked: "Does BJ have a chance to lead the nation in total yardage? Realistic qb award hopes?"
Realistically, Daniels isn't going to lead the nation in total yardage -- lots of offenses out there, and USF has enough running-game options that he shouldn't be at that 2009 level where he's like 80 percent of the total offense. What's certainly in play for Daniels is leading the Big East in total offense, and also becoming the conference's career leader in total offense, breaking Matt Grothe's record. West Virginia's Geno Smith would have been in position to do the same, but he's out of the league now. Daniels needs about 2,900 total yards to break that mark, which he should hit easily if he stays healthy, based on last year's numbers. The most reasonable award for Daniels to pull in would be a Big East MVP or Offensive MVP, something he'd be in line for if USF won the league under his leadership.
Guest asked: "With the new 4 team playoff coming and BE teams wanting to bolster their OOC schedules for a chance to make it in, have you heard about USF negotiating any future schedules with OOC teams?"
You're starting to see a few schedule announcements -- Rutgers and Kansas just hooked up for future dates -- but I have not heard anything on the schedule front. USF's administration is fairly close to the vest on those things, but yes, there's certainly an understanding that USF has to keep strong nonconference games on the schedule to make sure they're taken seriously on a national level if they have success in the Big East. This year's schedule -- at Nevada, vs. FSU, at Miami -- is a solid lineup that wouldn't hurt the Bulls at all, and next year, USF has Michigan State and Miami. Beyond that, there are certainly holes to fill to keep the schedule at a competitive level.
Red asked: "Which current coach is the best interview?"
Lots of good options on this staff, but hard to compete with the candor of Rick Smith right now. Very honest, very frank about his players. First day of practice in Vero, hour into afternoon drills, and his voice is in rough shape, but he's still yelling to players at a high level. I've told USF that if they offered a streaming audio that just had a miked-up Smith all day long, I'd pay to listen. Not just at practice, but in meetings, meals, etc. -- I think he's put himself out there as someone who will occasionally throw kids under the bus, but he really cares about his players. Shankweiler's a good one as well, and Fitch can be blunt when he needs to be.
Guest asked: "How's Jake Kaufman doing, ahead of the freshmen at tackle?"
I'm impressed just to see Jake Kaufman out at practice -- when you hear about back problems for two years with a guy that big, the natural inclination is to think he might never get back on the field. Kaufman was as high as 362 pounds at one point, but he's dropped considerable weight -- think he's 307 on latest roster -- and that's a Q. Eatmon level drop, very impressive. He isn't someone on the two-deep though, with all those second-year players ahead of him on the second team. He's probably best suited for some kind of special-teams role.
Guest: "Could you give me a 4 deep look on our receiving corps?"
Four deep? It's a very fluid lineup, and I've been away from practice a few days. I think it will start with Sterling Griffin and Andre Davis, and the next three in terms of established consistent play would have to be Terrence Mitchell, Deonte Welch and Victor Marc. From those five, you're curious to see where Ruben Gonzalez and two newcomers, Chris Dunkley and D'Vario Montgomery, fit in as regular playmakers in practice. That gives you eight, and from there, I will say that Derrick Hopkins seems to catch everything thrown his way in practice, and his speed could help replace the loss of Lamar, who's now at running back. I imagine Alex Mut redshirts this fall, and then you have walk-ons like Clinton Jones who will do well just to get on the field.
Guest: "Any word on the naming right for the sundome? I thought Bill Mcgillis had a tweet a few months back saying it would be a major company."
I don't remember hearing that -- I think if USF had something for a new naming-rights sponsor, you'd know about it. They've rolled out the renovated arena as the "new Sun Dome." It's a tough economy to land a major corporate partner like that, but it's also important for USF's repayment of the construction costs. It's not an athletics issue as much as a university issue there, but when the funding was approved, the projected revenues from the Sun Dome included $500,000 a year from a naming-rights sponsor, something that isn't there right now. Overall, the projections called for major improvements in revenue from the arena -- we'll have to see how the first events are attended and how well that can lead to more events. Doug Woolard has talked about the arena being booked as much as 250 days out of the year.
We'll do more questions in the next few days. ...