Welcome to the #TNSF (The New South Florida) Prepping for the 2021 Season series where we are covering the newest additions to the Bulls roster along with other news and notes for the 2021 season! With the end of camp resulting in Saturday’s live spring game, we have a question for each position group heading into the Summer!
QB: Who is the Starter for Week 1?
Not sure if anyone is surprised that a starter wasn’t named after Spring ball by HC Jeff Scott. All four scholarship QBs showed promise on Saturday and although you could peg Cade Fortin as the guy that looked the best throughout camp, I don’t have a problem with the QB competition being extended into the Fall. I have a feeling that Coach Scott could extend this out until two weeks before N.C. State, but there is also a possibility that one is named sooner in camp…
RB: How on Earth Will This Backfield be Utilized in 2021?
Mind you, this is a good problem to have. Leo Parker being out for the season takes away a back that looked promising as an early-down back, but transfer Jaren Mangham out of Colorado looks to be a guy that could be a two-down/short-yardage back if the staff wanted a larger RB in their rotation. K’wan Powell joins the roster as a true freshman and I really like his upside when he joins the roster in the Summer. And finally, you cannot forget about Kelley Joiner, Brian Battie, and Darrian Felix who make this position group DEEP across the board. This group will be a problem for opposing defenses, but it all comes down to how RB Coach Cam Aiken utilizes the position with multiple pieces to play.
WR: Who is the #1 Guy?
This question is centered around the idea that every receiving group in college football has a true #1 WR that is your go-to guy at receiver. Typically, that receiver is someone that can make contested catches, win 1 v. 1 matchups consistently, and is THE QB’s favorite target on crucial downs. The staff has done a good job of filling out a position group that has a little bit of everything, but who becomes that guy for the roster? After Spring Camp, my best guess is that Xavier Weaver leads the pack for this group heading into the year with a solid group behind him that will give the Bulls passing attack a plethora of options in 2021.
TE: What Does the Two-Deep Look Like in 2021?
Mitchell Brinkman showed a lot to me last year as a pass-catching threat (when given the opportunities) and willing run blocker who should get A LOT more credit in that respect as the Bulls projected #1 TE in 2021. Who falls right behind him though? I’ve always believed that this is a solid group from top to bottom, but with the departure of Jacob Mathis, who will stand out as the next man up? Chris Carter held that role in 2021, but true freshman Gunnar Greenwald and Holden Willis both looked the part on Saturday as well.
OL: Who Starts at RT and Who Keeps the Job Throughout the Season?
Two-part question here that really goes hand in hand in the grand scheme of things. Demontrey Jacobs is my favorite to go the way with Joshua Blanchard being someone that should enter the starting picture again once the upperclassmen in front of him at tackle move on to greener pastures.
DL: Where Does the Pass Rush Come From?
Guys like Ryan Thaxton, Jason Vaughn, and Tramel Logan were mentioned as players who have stepped up to the plate when it comes to being pass-rushers during camp and even though the focus shouldn’t just end there at DL, it does right now for the time being. Saturday showed some promise with the Bulls stunting guys up front and sending guys off the edge that can win against the guy in front of him, but this will fall as a “wait and see” group to assess how it’s improved in this aspect since last season.
LB: Which Guys Fall Behind the Starters?
Just like the TE position, this is a DEEP group that has me looking for the next guys up behind the projected starters. I think depth-wise, LB has what it needs heading into 2021 with the only question being WHO draws the remaining spots behind the starters. It’s anyone’s guess at this point with a group that looks to be at full-strength once the Bulls play N.C. State Week 1 in September…
DB: How Will This Position Group Pan Out After Fall Camp?
I really like the freshmen DBs that are set to enroll this Summer and even if they serve as role players early on, my best guess is what you see now is who will be the guys that start the year off in September. Similar to multiple positions on this team (RB, TE, and LB), I question who the immediate guys will be behind the projected starters and how much change we will see with the projected starters and potential backups in 2021. Be on the lookout for a position group that has multiple guys come in and out throughout the year based on defensive philosophy and who steps up as the Bulls move through their schedule.