South Florida, one of two ranked teams playing this Saturday, will go to California for a Week 1 clash with San Jose State. The Bulls watched their former head coach, Willie Taggart, go to Oregon to take the vacancy there. Taggart is a great fit for a program that has been a bit of a mess in recent years. Mark Helfrich was in over his head when he took over for Chip Kelly. Once the recruit well ran dry from Kelly’s class, Helfrich’s flaws started to come to a head. So, Taggart is running the show at Oregon, while former Texas head coach Charlie Strong takes over at USF.
Strong went from Louisville to getting thrusted into the national spotlight in Austin at the University of Texas. It was too much for him, as he got shown the door. He beat Oklahoma in his tenure, so if he has anything to be proud of it’s that. However, that’s about where the accolades end for him. Strong inherits a talented team at USF who head into the season ranked 19th in the country. It isn’t a bad consolation prize for him. There will be far less attention on him at South Florida than he had at Texas. He can go about his business, just like at Louisville, without the media breathing down his neck and watching his every move here.
It was really a best case scenario for Strong after leaving Texas. He is also lucky to come to a team where he won’t need to rebuild in his first-year. Strong will be the beneficiary of having an experienced quarterback running the offense for him. The dangerous Quinton Flowers is back for his senior season and looking to make an outside run at the Heisman. A lot of things would have to go right for that to happen, but he could be one of those outsiders that is mentioned after a few monster games. Flowers will get his on the ground and through the air.
San Jose State are looking to a new head coach in 2017 as well. Brent Brennan is brand new to the head coaching scene, as he gets his first shot at the helm. Brennan spent the last five years as the wide receiver coach at Oregon State. The Spartans’ staff will consist of another newcomer, 28-year-old offensive coordinator, Andrew Sowder.
After helping out at Texas, Sowder will become the youngest coach in the FBS. Sowder will try and ignite an offense that needs a push. The Spartans will employ a fast, hurry-up offense which they hope to model after a Texas Tech or Tulsa. The defense is probably going to suffer, but at least San Jose State will make for a bearable team to watch. Head below, as we hope to add a winning pick in Week 1 of college football.
South Florida Bulls vs. San Jose State Spartans Betting Odds:
South Florida -22(-110)
@San Jose State +22(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
South Florida vs. San Jose State Pick:
San Jose State is trying to bring some life to this offense by introducing the young Sowder. I expect a fun offense that should move the ball. This is only if a quarterback develops this season. Finding a quarterback is going to be a little bit of trial by error. A starter has yet to be announced, but we do know it’s going to be either sophomore Josh Love or freshman Montel Aaron.
Love is the only one with in-game experience, but it was for 2 touchdowns and 5 interceptions as a backup a year ago. Aaron, though, has been turning heads in training camp. If I were to guess, Love gets the start and Aaron eventually takes over as the starter. I do believe there will be a short leash on Love, and Aaron will get a chance if Love doesn’t look good out there against USF.
If a quarterback can find a way to operate, the offense shouldn’t be bad at all. The running backs and receivers are deep, notably runners Malik Robinson and Zamore Sigler should give some lift to the offense. Both are explosive and could make a big play or two in this one against the Bulls.
While the quarterback situation for San Jose State is dicey, Flowers comes in as one of the most explosive playmakers in college football for 2017. Flowers has been capable of doing it all the last two years. In 2017 he threw for 24 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, while gashing defenses with his legs as well.
Flowers accumulated 1,530 rushing yards and an additional 18 touchdowns to give him 42 in total. Look out for him as a dark horse in the Heisman race. USF will get their yards in this game, but beating San Jose State by more than 3 touchdowns is a lot to ask. Not for a team traveling all the way from Florida to the west coast. Strong will be content with taking a 45-27 win, or thereabouts, on Saturday. Bulls win, Spartans cover.