As we countdown to kickoff in September, we’re going to be doing a team-by-team preview each Wednesday over the summer. SU will finish its 2015 non-conference schedule when they play USF on Oct. 10.
HOT SEAT?: Willie Taggart’s seat may be getting a little hot. Taggart and South Florida went 2-10 in his inaugural season with the Bulls, and things only got slightly better in 2014. USF finished 4-8 and missed the postseason for the fourth straight year. That led to Taggart dismissing his offensive and defensive coordinators at the end of the season, which in turn led to huge changes in philosophies. Taggart ditched his old smash-mouth offensive philosophy for a spread offense, while on the defensive side of the football, the Bulls are switching to a 4-2-5 formation.
WHO TO WATCH FOR: Another season, another quarterback battle. Last year, Taggart vacillated between QBs Mike White, Steven Bench and Quinton Flowers. None were particularly effective, with the Bulls ranking 97th in the country in passing at 196.8 yards per game. White was more of a traditional pocket passer, and when Taggart switched to a spread offense, White transferred to Western Kentucky. While Taggart hasn’t officially named a starter yet, it’s hard to see anyone but Flowers starting. Flowers has the athleticism to run a spread offense, though he will need to work on his throws as evidenced by his combined 8-20 passing for zero touchdowns and two interceptions in his true freshman campaign.
PREDICTION: On top of settling on a quarterback and installing a new offensive scheme, Taggart will also need to rebuild an offensive line that just lost three-year starter Austin Reiter. That seems like a lot for an offense to overcome, and a lot will need to fall into place for Taggart to reach the golden six win mark. SYRACUSE 27, USF 24.