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Kofi Amichia Anchors New Look USF O-Line in 2016

With a new position coach and three new starters entering the fray, the biggest question mark for the Gulf Coast Offense in 2016 lies up front.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

A tricky aspect of generating consistency as a mid-major program in college football is dealing with coaching turnover. Whether it's larger programs with more money and resources poaching coordinators, assistant coaches leaving for specific reasons, or school's having no choice but to fire staff for sub-par performance, the coaching situation for several G5 schools can be a year-to-year revolving door.

The South Florida Bulls experienced plenty of coaching turnover this off-season, but the one move that could potentially leave several question marks is the departure of this guy:

Serving as offensive line coach/co-offensive coach in 2015, the backwards visor wearing Danny Hope provided an energy and enthusiasm that was immediately seen when he first arrived to Tampa last spring. Constantly communicating and engaging with his veteran line, the former Purdue head coach elevated an offensive line that in previous years had been ravaged by injuries and inconsistency into a force that literally paved the way for one of the nation's most prolific rushing attacks.

Comparing USF's O-Line S&P+ rankings between 2014 and 2015 clearly illustrate Hope's impact in turning the unit from one of the nation's worst to statistically one of the more efficient lines in the country in 2015.

USF Offensive Line S&P+ Rankings 2014 vs. 2015
Year Adjusted Line Yards Standard Downs Line YPC Passing Downs Line YPC Opportunity Rate Power Success Rate
2014 75.2 (126th) 2.42 (120th) 2.13 (126th) 31.8% (121st) 50% (127th)
2015 108.9 (32nd) 3.20 (21st) 3.80 (16th) 43.6% (18th) 63.5% (82nd)

(You can view the glossary and definition's for all of Football Outsiders' terms here.)

Enter Hiller

With Hope stepping down in January for family reasons, former Cincinnati Bearcats O-Line coach Darren Hiller now steps in to lead the Bulls front and coordinate the run game for 2016.

Throughout tenures at Arkansas State, Nevada, and Cincinnati over the past fourteen seasons, Hiller has overseen several successful offensive lines throughout his entire career. He has helped a handful of players earn all-conference honors, including most recently Bearcats tackle Parker Ehinger, who was named first-team All-AAC in 2014 and 2015 while protecting Gunner Kiel.

Hiller right out the gate will be tasked with maintaining similar levels of success in protecting Quinton Flowers with a generally inexperienced unit.

OL Coach/Co-OC: Darren Hiller

OL Roster*:

  • Dominique Threatt (Senior/Atlanta, GA)
  • Kofi Amichia (Senior/Powder Springs/GA)
  • Glen Bethel (Junior/Miami. FL)
  • Jeremi Hall (Junior/Atlanta, GA)
  • Cameron Ruff (Junior/Tampa, FL)
  • Michael Galati (Sophomore/Bradenton, FL)
  • Michael Smith (Sophomore/Miami, FL)
  • Cameron Campbell (Redshirt Freshman/ Pembroke Pines, FL)
  • Billy Atterbury (Redshirt Freshman/Clearwater, FL)
  • Brooks Larkin (Redshirt Freshman/Bradenton, FL)
  • Marcus Norman (Redshirt Freshman/Sebastian, FL)
Incoming Freshmen:
*Roster based off team website at time this was written.

Filling the Gaps

The main factor that will determine the success of USF's offensive line in 2016 will be finding a way to replace outgoing senior leaders Thor Jozwiak, Mak Djulbegovic, and Brynjar Gudmundsson (First-Team All-American Unique Names). The trio of big men started all thirteen games for South Florida in 2015, anchoring a cohesive squad that improved with the rest of the offense as the season went along, leading the AAC in fewest sacks allowed in conference games (1.12).

Fortunately for Darren Hiller, the two other line veterans from last season will be coming back, as seniors Dominique Threatt and Kofi Amichia will be returning to right guard and left tackle respectively. Starting all thirteen games themselves in 2015, the Georgia natives will continue where they left off from last season as they look to provide lanes so tailbacks like Marlon Mack can achieve even more yards per carry in 2016.

From here, the positions of left guard, center, and right tackle are up for grabs as three individuals will be first time regular starters when the season begins in September. Willie Taggart and staff were hoping one of those spots would be filled by former four-star St. Petersburg native Reilly GibbonsBut nagging knee injuries forced him to retire from the game earlier in the month.

Fortunately where Gibbons steps out, transfer Glen Bethel steps in. The monster 6-6, 300 LB transfer out of Arizona Western CC (originally from Miami) has the potential to impose his will on opposing defensive linemen. Joining Bethel as potential starters includes Cameron Ruff, who has a single start in his USF career, Jeremi Hall, who appeared in eight games last season, and Billy Atterbury, the highly touted 2015 three-star recruit from Clearwater who was redshirted in 2015.

The strength or Achilles heel for any offense in college football lies within the effectiveness of its offensive-line. With the level of competition in the AAC rising on a yearly basis and studs like five-star defensive tackle Ed Oliver entering the league, the Bulls can't afford to regress back to having an unreliable front core.