BIGEAST.org will be previewing all eight BIG EAST teams leading up to the start of the season. Team previews will be released in inverse order of the preseason media poll - today's preview will be of the USF Bulls, who were picked second.
USF went 4-1 in nonconference games in 2011, but looks to bounce back from a 1-6 finish in BIG EAST play.
Three of the Bulls’ last four losses came on field goals either as time or expired or in overtime.
With last season the exception, USF has played in a bowl game in every other season in which it has been a member of the Bowl Subdivision.
USF has defeated four top-25 opponents on the road since the start of the 2006 season.
QB B.J. Daniels enters the 2012 season ranked seventh in BIG EAST history in total offense (7,992 yards). Daniels needs 2,883 yards to tie former teammate Matt Grothe as the conference’s all-time leader (10,875 yards).
USF returns its top six receivers from last year, including WR Sterling Griffin, who had 43 catches for 530 yards in an injury-shortened season.
The Bulls return both starting offensive tackles — OT Quinterrius Eatmon and OT Mark Popek — as well as OG Danous Estenor, giving the Bulls a combined 46 career starts on the offensive line.
USF led the BIG EAST in rushing last season (181.2 ypg). Returning RB Demetris Murray rushed for 503 yards and a team-high eight touchdowns last year.
The Bulls return seven starters on defense, including all three starting linebackers from last year.
LB DeDe Lattimore (94 tackles), LB Michael Lanaris (87) and LB Sam Barrington (72) were all ranked among the top 17 players in the BIG EAST in tackles last season.
SS Jon Lejiste had a BIG EAST-leading three fumble recoveries last year. CB Kayvon Webster (seven pass breakups, two interceptions) was an All-BIG EAST Second Team selection in the secondary.
DE Ryne Giddins (3.5 sacks in 2011) could be poised to follow current NFL standouts Jason Pierre-Paul and George Selvie as impact players at defensive end for USF.
K Maikon Bonani earned All-BIG EAST Second Team honors last season and has made his last seven field goal attempts.
P Justin Brockhaus-Kann returns after averaging 37.6 yards per punt for the second straight season.