The South Florida Bulls have been on a downward slide the last few seasons, prompting a coaching change during the offseason. Willie Taggart returns to his home state to take over a USF program that has seen better days and he is attempting to turn them around with his high energy style and unbridled enthusiasm. Helping his cause will be a pair of transfer players, quarterback Steven Bench and defensive end Aaron Lynch, who will break out as stars for the Bulls in 2013.
Bench comes to South Florida after leaving the Penn State Nittany Lions when he wasn’t able to secure the starting job coming out of spring practice. He comes south to join a Bulls roster without a clear-cut successor to B.J. Daniels, giving Bench a great opportunity to be the starter. Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd competed during spring practice, but neither wowed Taggart enough to get the nod. That was also probably a major selling point to Bench, who wouldn’t have picked South Florida if he were going to have to sit for a year.
Lynch, meanwhile, did have to sit for a year after transferring from the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. He has wowed coaches during spring practice with his strength and athleticism off the edge and is poised to be one of the premier pass rushers in the Big East in 2013. His presence could turn the USF front seven into the strength of the team as he plays in front of the team’s top returning tackler, linebacker DeDe Lattimore (76 tackles, 3.5 sacks in 2012), and seven total returning starters on defense.
While it isn’t a full-on rebuilding job at South Florida for Taggart, he still faces a challenging turnaround for a program that won eight games just three seasons ago. Can the infusions of Bench and Lynch provide an immediate spark that will help the Bulls find success quickly in 2013?