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USF 2014 Football Preview: Running Backs

With the loss of leading rusher Marcus Shaw, USF's running game will be interesting to watch in 2014.

USF's preseason starter, Darius Tice.
USF's preseason starter, Darius Tice.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Besides the quarterback situation, how USF's running game does this year will probably be the most interesting thing to watch on offense. The Bulls lost their top two backs in Marcus Shaw and Willie Davis from last year, but have some bright talent waiting in the depths from the past two recruiting classes. From those classes, USF added a four star, two three stars and one two star. The line in front of them is also returning seven players with starting experience, so that should be a plus.

Darius Tice (the two star recruit who is now a sophomore) is listed as the starter in the preseason depth chart. He is the leading rusher returning from last year, but with just 141 yards from 35 carries (4 yard per rush average) that isn't saying much. It is unlikely that Tice will be relied upon as heavily as Shaw was (at least initially), but he obviously is slated to get a good amount of playing time.

Listed behind Tice on the depth chart is redshirt freshman Sta'Fon McCray. McCray was a beast at Osceola High School where he rushed for over 3,200 yards and 45 touchdowns in his last two years (good enough to earn him a three star recruiting ranking).

The rest of the backs that weren't listed on the preseason chart are D'Ernest Johnson, Marlon Mack, and Rodeny Watson. Johnson and Mack are both incoming freshmen and four and three star recruits, respectively. Watson has been on the team longer than all of them all as a senior, but has never really been a big contributor since he joined the team as a walk on four years ago.

So, losing Marcus Shaw shouldn't be the end of the world (although it will most likely hurt). USF has a couple young flashy guys who could turn into studs, however they are about as inexperienced as you can get. I wouldn't expect much from the running game this year, but they're set up for a bright future.