Before I begin the defensive line preview, huge news for South Florida Bulls fans, you have a home again! The Daily Stampede (the artist formerly known as Voodoo Five) is back on SB Nation to once again provide a hub for everything USF athletics moving forward, so check it out. Now lets talk some lineman.
Much similar to the Gulf Coast offense that we've previewed here this spring, the source of success for USF's defense in 2015 came with a change or rather, development of an identity. That became apparent exactly one year ago when former defensive coordinator Tom Allen arrived to Tampa.
The energy that the former Ole Miss LB coach brought from Oxford was on full display in the very first spring practice last season as he was able to install a 4-2-5 base defense and co-opt the "Landshark" identity that had become popular at Ole Miss into the "Bull Sharks" at South Florida. Allen's departure to his native Indiana came as a blow to Bulls fans this past January, but new defensive coordinator/LB coach Raymond Woodie has made it clear they will carry on with the scheme and identity into 2016.
Allen's defense saw a marked dramatic improvement in 2015 over Chuck Bresnahan's previous units, rising in defensive S&P+ from 96th in 2014 to 46th in 2015. Specifically, the defensive front seven under Allen improved dramatically in Havoc Rate (team's total tackles for loss, passes defensed, and forced fumbles divided by total plays) as evidenced from the chart below:
|Year||Def. S&P+||Havoc Rate|
|2014 (Bresnahan/3-4)||33.2 (96th)||8.5% (86th)|
|2015 (Allen/4-2-5)||25.0 (46th)||9.9% (55th)|
A huge contributing factor to this success were the trio of outgoing defensive lineman James Hamilton, Demetrius Hill, and Eric Lee. The seniors combined for precisely 100 tackles on the season on the way to contributing to the school's first bowl appearance since 2010.
Lee in particular was a force to be reckoned with coming off the edge in 2015. The defensive end out of Daphne, AL started all twelve games during the 8-5 campaign, racking up 45 tackles (twelve for loss), five sacks, and one interception on the way to earning second-team All-AAC honors. It will be a tall order for the remaining defensive ends on the roster to replace the production that the multi-year starting team captain offered.
Defensive Line Coach: Eric Mathies
Defensive Line Roster*:
- Deadrin Senat (Junior/Immokalee, FL)
- Bruce Hector (Junior/Tampa, FL)
- Kevin Bronson (Sophomore/Delray Beach, FL)
- Vincent Jackson Jr. (Sophomore/Tampa, FL)
- Kirk Livingstone (Redshirt Freshman/Fort Lauderdale, FL)
- Mike Love (Junior/Clearwater, FL)
- Eric Mayes (Sophomore/Sarasota, FL)
- Nicholas Munera (Sophomore/Tampa, FL)
- Marlon Gonzalez (Redshirt Freshman/Cape Coral, FL)
- Tramal Ivy (Three Star/Juco, Muskogee, OK)
- LaDarrius Jackson (Three Star/Juco, Birmingham, AL)
- Frank Johnson (Three Star/Juco, Woodville, MS)
*Roster based off team website at time this was written.
Sharks in the Water
Returning to the fray to wreck shop in 2016 are a pair of defensive tackles in the form of juniors Bruce Hector and Deadrin Senat. The two saw significant playing time in 2015 and look the take complete control of the line when the season begins vs. Towson in September. The 305 pound Senat, who started in ten games last season, looks to top his 46 tackle campaign by disrupting opposing offensive lineman and stuffing anything that comes up the middle. Meanwhile Hector, who tied for the team lead in sacks last season, will look to utilize his impressive quickness to live in opposing backfields once again.
Hoping to fill the gap left behind the aforementioned Eric Lee are Vincent Jackson Jr. and Kevin Bronson, who will be competing for starting jobs and more playing time as sophomores. Bronson started three of the final four games of the 2015 season, including recording two tackles and a pass break-up in the Miami Beach Bowl. Meanwhile, the highly touted Jackson looks to finally see the field for significant action during his sophomore campaign.
But wait, there's more...
Senior DT Daniel Awoleke back on the field, cleared by the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility yesterday. pic.twitter.com/izVq1ww7o3
— USF Football (@USFFootball) March 26, 2016
I'm hearing former #USF DT Derrick Calloway, who withdrew for academic reasons last summer, is on track to return to Bulls this summer.— Joey Knight (@TBTimes_Bulls) April 11, 2016
Two huge coups for USF come in the form of getting back Daniel Awoleke and Derrick Calloway into green and gold uniforms by the fall. Awoleke, a former walk-on who earned a scholarship last August, provided twenty-one tackles and four sacks in the aggressive Bull Shark defense last season. Calloway, whose status was up in the air after withdrawing for academic reasons last July, posted thirty tackles and a team leading three sacks in 2014.
These two additions along with the arrivals of Tramal Ivy, Frank Johnson, and early enroll transfer LaDarrius Jackson provides a sudden influx of depth of what is sure to be a hungry/aggressive line in 2016.