The South Florida Bulls suffered a disastrous 2013 season where they bungled their way to a 2-10 record in year one under head coach Willie Taggart. It was not the type of start that Taggart was hoping for with USF, especially considering the talent on the roster, highlighted by Notre Dame Fighting Irish transfer Aaron Lynch at defensive end. But with Lynch announcing he will leave for the NFL after just one season with USF, Taggart is going to be searching for talent in 2014, particularly in his pass rush.
Lynch was expected to be a huge impact player on the Bulls’ defense this season and had a strong finish to the year to lead the team with five sacks off the edge. He finished the year with 30 total tackles, including a team-high 12.5 tackles for loss, and a fumble return for a touchdown that was key to one of USF’s two wins on the season. His effort this season made him a first-team All-AAC selection and would have been a key part of the Bulls’ plans moving forward but he’ll be taking his talents to the NFL instead this spring.
And he won’t be the only key piece leaving USF after this season. Five of the top six sack-men for USF this season were seniors (and the sixth is Lynch), and only three players who recorded a sack this season will be back in 2014. That means the producers of just 3.5 of the team’s 22 sacks this season are going to return next season, putting a huge cloud of uncertainty over the Bulls’ pass rush next season.
Taggart has a huge challenge ahead of him to get USF on the right track towards becoming a winning program in the AAC. That challenge will be even greater next season as he tries to find someone to replace the pass rush of Lynch and a senior-heavy defensive front in 2014.