EDITOR'S NOTE: This is the sixth of eight team previews that will be launched this week on BIGEAST.org. The order of release will coincide with the order of this year's preseason poll.
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Skip Holtz, the former Connecticut and East Carolina head coach, is just the second head coach in USF history. Holtz led East Carolina to the Conference USA title in each of the last two seasons.
The Bulls have played in five consecutive bowl games and have been ranked in the top 25 in parts of each of the past three seasons. USF has played in a bowl game in each of its five seasons as a BIG EAST member.
USF will play Florida for the first time in 2010. Florida is the only FBS program in the Sunshine State that USF has not faced previously. The Bulls have started each of the last three seasons with five-game winning streaks.
QB B.J. Daniels, who stepped in as the Bulls’ starter in the fourth game of the season, ranked second in the BIG EAST in total offense (211.9 yards per game). Daniels led all BIG EAST quarterbacks in rushing with 772 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Bulls should benefit from the return of four starters on the offensive line, including All-BIG EAST Second Team center Sampson Genus.
A pair of starting wide receivers return in Dontavia Bogan (305 yards, 4 TD) and Sterling Griffin (265 yards, 2 TD).
USF must replace five All-BIG EAST players on defense, including ends George Selvie (the 2007 BIG EAST Defensive Player of the Year) and Jason Pierre-Paul (a first-round selection in the NFL Draft).
USF returns just one player among its top seven tackle leaders from last year (LB Sabbath Joseph).
The Bulls forced 16 turnovers in their first five games last season, but had just seven takeaways in the last eight games.
USF had 13 interceptions last season, but returning players accounted for just three picks.
K Eric Schwartz walked on to the roster last season and made 11 of 16 field goal attempts.
K Maikon Bonani was the regular kicker in 2008 and returns to the lineup after missing all of last season due to injury.
|From the BIG EAST Newsstand
| "It's a whole new world for South Florida football, or, as those somewhat contrived billboards all over town would proclaim if asked, a Holtz new world. The time for plays on words has ended. It's really time to play."
With Holtz at helm, time to start new chapter - Tampa Bay Online
|As an offensive tackle at USF, Jake Sims has had his share of long practices in recent years, regularly lining up against an All-American in George Selvie or a first-round NFL draft pick in Jason Pierre-Paul. And while the Bulls don't have any single defensive end to match the talent of either starter last season, Sims has instead found himself up against a veritable throng of pass rushers, with seemingly a different hand in the dirt in front of him each time he takes his stance.
USF Bulls are deep on defense, but not star-studded - St. Petersburg Times