South Florida football
South Florida Bulls QB Gerry Bohanon during a football game against the Tulane University Green Wave on October 15, 2022. (Aschley Joseph/South Florida Athletics)

USF Football Preview: How Much Will Bulls Improve?

The University of South Florida has a new coach this year, Alex Golesh. He was the offensive coordinator of the high-powered Tennessee Volunteers team prior to coming to Tampa, Fla. USF lost a lot of close games this past year, but still, 1-11 made the coaching change inevitable.

The offense will be totally rebuilt this year. Only quarterback Gerry Bohanon Sr. started seven or more games last year and returns in 2023. As a junior, Bohanon threw for 18 touchdowns in 12 games while at Baylor, but for USF only six touchdowns in seven games, and only a 57 percent completion rate. Phil Steele lists RB Kelley Joiner, Jr. as preseason a AAC 4th teamer, so this could be the year for a 1,000-yard back. Also, their notable RB transfer this year from the University of Florida, Nay-Quan Wright, should be a solid threat — giving the Bulls a solid 1-2 punch.

South Florida football

South Florida standout Aamaris Brown is back at cornerback and will be a key guy this fall (PHOTO CREDIT: South Florida Athletics)

Is it possible for USF to adopt a high-speed offense like Golesh's at Tennessee? The Tennessee Volunteers were in the top 40 last year in average plays per game, while USF finished outside the top 100. More importantly, the Vols offense was tops in scoring in the nation under Golesh.

On the defensive side, things can only improve. USF last year was giving up 517 yards per game, which was No. 131 out of 131 FBS teams. In the transfer portal, the Bulls gained LB Andrew Mata'afa from Utah, LB Zane Herring from Florida State, LB DJ Gordon IV from Minnesota, LB edge rusher Derrick Harris Jr. from Texas, and added top high school recruit DB Jarvis Lee from Bradenton FL. USF retains the same DC from last year, but with a top-80 recruiting class, some improvement should be shown.

Looking at its schedule, USF may have caught a break. There are three and maybe four winnable games at home, great because USF has lost 18 straight road games. Florida Atlantic and Florida A&M are the best chances, with Temple and then Charlotte as the last game another two long-range chances. If Connecticut has a weak year, USF might break through with a road win there in late October.

South Florida football

South Florida RB Kelley Joiner Jr. is expected to do big things this fall for the Bulls (PHOTO CREDIT: USF Athletics)

Scheme can't solve everything, but against a now diluted AAC, the new, probably faster offense could win one or two upsets. Plus a defense that adds a lot of transfers could keep USF in more games. Thus at least three wins and maybe four seems reasonable.

Fanbuzz facts: USF has added a new indoor practice facility and a new locker room. USF plays in Raymond James Stadium, the NFL's Tampa Bay Buccaneers home stadium. Though it holds almost 70,000 fans, USF draws less than half that for home games, but an on-campus stadium is in the works in the future.