From Tampa... The Daily Stampede Group. An unrehearsed program featuring inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. Here’s the moderator, John McLaughlin.
ISSUE NUMBER ONE!! Everyone seems very positive in fall camp. Extremely positive. *Suspiciously* positive? Are the good vibes on the Bulls practice field genuine? Is it an indicator of better results in 2019, or is this a case of faking it until they make it JACK GERMOND!!!!
Anthony Vito: If you’re having fun, it’s easier to be positive. If everyone buys in, that’ll translate to success. How much success is the question. This doesn’t look like a red herring. It feels like whatever issues they had last year are gone. Just listen to the Kerwin Bell podcast — this is a night and day difference.
Nick Simon: I can see how some would see the positive vibes as a show for the public, but I think it’s legit and we’ll see crisper play because of it. Everyone in the building knows how fucked last year was and they’re motivated to rectify that.
Robert Steeg: So long as they win, absolutely. Positive emotions can go a long way, just like negative emotions can drag a team very low. Sometimes you have to fake the positivity and confidence for a bit so that when it comes, you’re used to it.
Seth Varnadore: It depends on the source of the positivity. Is it a culture thing being driven by player leadership? Then it’s more likely to last and contribute to winning. Is it players thinking that new coaches are going to be a magic pill that will solve all last year’s issues? Then it may be more fleeting. Coaches can drive culture, but great teams have culture driven by players and coaches.
Nathan Bond: We’ll find out after the Wisconsin game. If they win... great, they truly turned the corner and are headed back in the right directon. If they lose (which is a distinct possibility), that will make seven losses in a row dating back to last season. Does that doubt start to creep in? Do they think, “Here we go again?” I think it’s a legitimate turnaround, but losing does funny things to people.
ISSUE TWO!!! Johnny Ford! He was the offensive X-factor last season as a running back. By the end of the year he seemed to be the only USF player capable of making a big play. Will his move to wide receiver help him make a bigger impact and will he still get touches on the ground MICHAEL BARONE!!!!
Anthony: Bell will put every weapon he has on the field in whatever formation will be most effective. I expect Ford to be all over the place. It wouldn’t surprise me if we see some diamond formations, and presnap changes based on the defense. Johnny is a special talent.
Nick: Yes and yes. Ford could very well become D’Ernest Johnson 2.0 because he can do a little bit of everything. Hopefully the power in charge (Bell) realizes that unlike his predecessor.
Robert: Since Kerwin seems to know how to utilize skillful players, yes, I think Ford staples himself as a utility player for USF. Catching passes out of the backfield, running jet sweeps, etc.
Seth: Ford will get a ton of touches, and most of them in space. I would guess the biggest reason he moved to WR is to get the best 11 dudes on the field at once. Being a spread team, it would be tough to put two backs in when you have such a great TE as well. The position switch lets them put Ford, Cronkrite, and Wilcox on the field at the same time. That will be the most impactful part of the move. I would imagine Ford will be used all over the field, including from the backfield
Nate: He’ll get plenty of opportunities to run the ball from the backfield as well as in jet sweeps. The key to the opening TD in the spring game was having Ford in the backfield. They want their best players to get the ball, and he’s one of them. 30-40 catches and 50 rushes or more seem doable.
NEXT ISSUE!!! Last year’s defense was average at best. No one stepped up to be the big playmaker on that side of the ball. Who is most likely to become that leader the defense so desperately needs FREDDIE THE BEETLE BARNES!!!!
Anthony: There’s a ton of new faces. Have to believe the reports that the transfers will make an immediate impact; Studstill, Slade, Thaxton. We’re all crossing our fingers on Sails’ immediate eligibility, too. Mike Hampton and KJ Sails in the secondary sounds crazy good.
Nick: Nico Sawtelle (if healthy) and KJ Sails (if eligible) are the two that immediately comes to mind. Greg Reaves being back at his natural position at defensive end is also a huge boon to the defense.
Robert: My answer depends on if KJ Sails becomes eligible. If he’s eligible, it’s him. He’s an absolute ball hawk in the secondary. If not, then Greg Reaves coming back to his position should be able to create havoc plays in the backfield again.
Seth: Hampton and Sails (hopefully). The defensive back group has been getting some great reviews from practice reports. If the corners can consistently win in man coverage, it will allow the defense to do a lot of things schematically. It will also take pressure off the front seven.
Nate: I would have said Nico Sawtelle but it doesn’t look like he will be healthy. I’d love for a defensive tackle to truly step up and be a Deadrin Senat/Bruce Hector type force.
ISSUE FOUR!!! USF has been a very undisciplined football team the last two seasons. They’ve committed an astounding 210 penalties! Can this team cut down on the penalties and mental miscues PAT BUCHANAN!!!!
Anthony: I think they will; having fun on offense should translate to less mental errors. I bet it’s easy to hold a lineman when you know you’re gonna get yelled out for a failed HB Dive with seven in the box on a 3rd and 7.
Nick: We touched on this in the Slack and the real question is can they cut down on stupid penalties (delay of game, too many men on the field, etc.). If they can maintain focus, then yes.
Robert: The team looks like they have laser focus and aren’t just going thru the motions, that’s where a team can be penalized the most. We are going to have dumb penalties every once in a while, but I think with the proper motivation we should see that decrease.
Seth: This relates back to the positive vibes question. Has there been a culture shift? If there is more buy-in from the team with some strong player leadership? If so, a more disciplined team should be one result.
Nate: When you mentally check out, like a lot of players did last season, the penalties will pile up. They’ve had difficulties with penalties in fall camp too, but that may be more of a new offense kind of thing. I fully expect sloppy play for awhile before things settle down.
John McLaughlin: Gentlemen, I’m sorry to do this, but would you excuse me for a minute?
Nate: Where are you going?
John: We have a new show taping next door, and I said I’d host the first one to get it off the ground. I’ll be right back. (leaves studio)
Nate: Hey, I see it over there on the monitor. Let’s watch.
From Orlando... The C.Florida Group. An unrehearsed program featuring inside opinions and forecasts on major issues of the day. Here’s the moderator, John McLaughlin.
ISSUE ONE!!! Danny White still has 19 non-conference games to fill over the next several years. Does he have some rabbits to pull out of his hat? Or has insisting on home and homes from anyone and everyone rubbed too many people the wrong way CHRIS MATTHEWS!!!!
Panelist 1: What the hell are you talking about, John? Everything’s great!
Panelist 2: Yeah, John! Danny knows what he’s doing. If he signs us up to play someone good and we lose, then we can’t whine about being left out of the playoff, and we can’t blow up Twitter for a month with our bots and trolls. Our entire business plan goes out the window!
Panelist 3: Совершенно верно, товарищ. Джон, похоже, не понимает, как в игру играют. Или я должен сказать, не играл!
(The panelists chuckle.)
Panelist 1: Geez, John, why would we try to prove ourselves when we can pile up cheap wins and beat our chests about it instead? You want us to play Alabama and Florida and Miami like those idiots in Tampa?
Panelist 4: BULLS PEED AHEAD! Race you guys to the wave pool!
(The panelists laugh uproariously and head out the door. John scowls and goes back across the hall.)
John: I’m back. Those people are hopeless. Anyway, where were we...
ISSUE NUMBER FIVE!!!! Does USF really have a chance to beat Wisconsin on Friday night ELEANOR CLIFT!!!
Anthony: Game 1’s are always weird, especially in this case. Brand new offense with no tape, at RayJay, a little more energy to make a statement. If they go four verts play 1 and score that stadium will erupt like FSU. Now, is Wisco playing conservative for their new QB? Maybe a true freshman? Will they sandbag hoping Taylor will win it alone saving plays for B10 play? A high-flying, fast offense can beat ground-and-pound if they can keep scoring, but there are a ton of ifs.
Nick: The Bulls have a shot against the Badgers, but you have to hope that: 1. Wisconsin’s big, but inexperienced offensive line isn’t quite in sync yet. 2. Jonathan Taylor doesn’t run for a bajillion yards like Dalvin Cook did a few years back. 3. Jack Coan or Graham Mertz aren’t effective in their first start. 4. Blake Barnett and the USF offense can exploit UW’s young secondary. That’s a lot of ifs.
Robert: Random number generator says! 52%, which is ironic because I’m split with no clue either.
Seth: They can beat Wisconsin. They will have to play really well obviously, but it’s doable. If they can make Wisconsin throw the ball 25+ times they have a much better chance. A typical “humidity punches you in the face as soon as you walk outside” kind of night wouldn’t hurt either.
Nate: It’s a non-zero chance, but less than 50%. The defensive front four worries the hell out of me. If you told me Jonathan Taylor will run for 320 yards and five touchdowns, I wouldn’t bat any eye.
NEXT ISSUE!!!! Will Charlie Strong still be USF’s head coach in two years? What about in five years MORTON KONDRACKE!!!
Anthony: No freaking clue. Charlie likely isn’t leaving for another job, and I don’t see them doing so poorly that he gets fired. He likely retires if anything. I’ll say Charlie in two and GIMME SHAUN KING/KADE BELL IN FIVE. Or like, I dunno, Marquell Blackwell?
Nick: *Shrug emoji* When he was hired, none of us thought Charlie would still be here in 2019. I’ll say if things go south again soon, Kerwin is the guy in two years. Five years from now, who the hell knows.
Robert: In 2 years? Strong. I think he’s pretty content and we won’t have to fend off any P5 programs any time soon. In 5 years? SHAUN KING BABYYYYY
Seth: I think Strong is a good coach, so two years from now I would imagine he would still be the guy. Five years is a long time in college football. If it’s not somebody currently on staff, I’m gonna go with Christian Robinson, the LB coach at Florida. I think he’s gonna be a rising star in the profession.
Nate: Both of these answers could be Strong. Do back-to-back-to-back 7-5 seasons in 2018, 2019, and 2020 get Charlie on the hot seat? Maybe. Is he a lame duck heading into the final year of his contract? Unlikely. Charlie did just buy a $3.2 million house, and normally that means diddily in college football, but he does seem different from most college coaches in that regard. If Kerwin is still on the staff five years from now, it could be him.
ISSUE NUMBER SEVEN!!! Predict USF’s final 2019 record CLARENCE PAGE!!!!
Anthony: Give me 9-3 baby. The schedule is tough but lines up nicely at the end of the year. No weird road trips, stay in Florida in November for the hardest stretch of the schedule. Bell’s system gets better over time. Upside is sky high, and as we know in 2015, it can come outta nowhere. Compete for the East until the War.
Nick: This is an 8-4 team that has a lot of upside. IF the offense is everything it’s been hyped up to be with an improved line and a senior quarterback, the defense doesn’t bottom out again and injuries are avoided, this team could reinsert itself into the East division title conversation. If not, WE GOIN’ BACK TO BIRMINGHAM, BAAAABBBBBYYYY!!!!
Robert: The schedule is tough, but the offense has the pieces to fix itself, the defense is healthy again, and there’s a lot of positivity coming into this season for redemption. Therefore: 7-5 GASPARILLA BOWL BOUND.
Seth: 8-4 seems to be the consensus here so I’ll go with that. It’s hard to say before seeing them on the field. Regardless, I would hammer the over 6.5 if I was out in Vegas.
Nate: The floor is 8-4. If they can get by Wisconsin, they legitimately could be 8-0 heading into November. Even if they lose to the Badgers, 7-1 is realistic too. It’s just those final four games against Temple, Cincinnati, Memphis, and C that make me believe a four-game losing streak to finish the year is possible.