I thought I'd throw out a few theoretical USF football stats for the 2010 season, along with arguments for why the team (or individual players) might or might not exceed them. If you feel strongly about these one way or the other, tell us in the comments.
These are pretty basic over/unders just to get you thinking. I wish I had more time to come up with some really deep stuff like "David Bedford will get 12 tackles for loss" or "George Baker will have nine passes defensed", but it was not to be.
Over/under #1: B.J. Daniels will run for 500 yards this season.
Argument for the over: It's not easy to reform a quarterback who likes to run, and Daniels might be the best open-field athlete on the team. He broke 100 yards rushing four times last year, and if he tucks it down and runs he can get huge chunks of yards. Even if he doesn't, it's only a little around 40 yards per game, assuming there's a bowl game.
Argument for the under: Skip Holtz and Todd Fitch just don't want him running often enough to get that many yards rushing. Daniels will also know in the back of his mind that he cannot let himself get injured, because it would probably hose the entire season. Also, sacks count as negative rushing yards in college football, so he'd have to run for like 800 yards to net out to 500.
Over/under #2: The Bulls will score 300 points this season.
Argument for the over: With 12 or 13 games, it's not going to take that many points per game to hit 300, a total the Bulls have easily reached each of the last three seasons. There are several easy games on the schedule with which USF can pad their point total. And a couple days ago Holtz talked about the importance of not letting off the gas against weaker competition. (Last year East Carolina had a huge lead against Appalachian State and eased off the throttle in the fourth quarter, only to see the Mountaineers get back in the game.)
Argument for the under: With the running back position still unsettled and A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin out until at least October, it may be difficult to string drives together, even against weaker opponents. With road games against Florida, West Virginia, and Miami, and teams like UConn who love to play it tight, the Bulls may find it difficult to score on several occasions this year.
Over/under #3: DeDe Lattimore will get 100 tackles this season.
Argument for the over: The weakside linebacker, which is Lattimore on the current depth chart, is the one who gets to make the most plays in the 4-3 under. He lines up near the left guard and plays up the middle (or really any play between the tackles) will get funneled towards him. If he makes 7-8 tackles a game Lattimore can easily get to 100.
Argument for the under: Sabbath Joseph has a lot of experience at WLB and he could cut into Lattimore's playing time, or force a time-share. In that case it would be really hard for either of them to get to 100 individually, although they would have a good chance of exceeding it with their combined tackles.
Over/under #4: B.J. Daniels will complete 58% of his passes.
Argument for the over: You don't see very many freshmen quarterbacks come in and putting up monster passing stats, and Daniels was certainly no exception. But he'll have a year under his belt, a new offense with more safe passes, and an offensive coordinator who has hit the 56% mark with his starting QB the last five years (including his last two as quarterbacks coach at Iowa State), with three seasons of 60% or higher. Plus with Love and Griffin out for awhile, that might force the Bulls to rely on easy passes to backs and tight ends, inflating the completion percentage.
Argument for the under: We know Daniels has a cannon arm, but he'll have to temper it some to fit into the new offense. Plus defenses, knowing the Bulls are depleted at receiver, can just flood the short passes and dare Daniels to throw deep to receivers who may not be able to make plays down the field. Like last year, that would mean fewer completions and probably some turnovers.
Over/under #5: The Bulls will make 16 field goals.
Argument for the over: This is probably the strongest the kicker position has been since Santiago Gramatica left. Between Maikon Bonani and Eric Schwartz, the Bulls should easily find college-level consistency. East Carolina's kicker, Ben Hartman, made 20 and 21 field goals the last two seasons, so there may be an increase in field goal chances for this kicking duo.
Argument for the under: Assuming a typical college success rate of around 70%, you would need 23 attempts to get to 16 makes. Also, blowout wins or losses (of which there could be several this year) can cut into the number of field goal attempts because you're either going for it on fourth down out of desperation, or doing your best not to score towards the end.
Over/under #6: USF will win 7 games this season.
Argument for the over: Figure five relatively easy wins (Stony Brook, Western Kentucky, FAU, Syracuse, Louisville) and five difficult games (Florida, West Virginia, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Miami). That leaves two swing games, against Rutgers and UConn. Both are in Tampa, and both are teams that USF typically struggled against because of bad coaching. If Holtz is the thing that gets them over the top, and then they win a bowl game, then that's 8.
Argument for the under: They could lose to Louisville, I could be underestimating UConn, Daniels could get hurt, they could honk a bowl game… let's be honest here, we're basically just guessing at the win total until we know how USF wants to play in real games. Fortunately we're only a few days away on that one.