Anticipation for the 2012 Season Builds
The voice of USF Athletics routinely puts down his radio headset and picks up the pen to share his perspective on the history of USF Athletics.
Louk has been broadcasting games for 29 years and is the resident historian in the Athletics Department hallways.
Voice of the USF Bulls
August is here, and although we aren't playing football yet, at least we can start writing about it.
The journey to training camp at Vero Beach is around the corner, where some questions will be answered and some questions will be raised. Opening day is less than a month away on Sept. 1 against UT-Chattanooga.
At this time last year I wrote many upbeat stories about the season about to unfold, and given the opportunity, I'd write them again. Not many of us saw 5-7 coming; proof that no matter how long you may have been around there are always a few surprises out there. I've heard Skip speak at a lot of places in the offseason, and frequently he has said the 2011 season was like no other in his career, what with the four losses on the last play of the game.
So, what about 2012? Probably will be a few surprises there, too. After last year, we're due for some good surprises.
It's interesting to see national media in a sense give the Bulls a pass for 2011. After going 1-6 in league play last season, many experts have the Bulls near the top of the Big East for 2012. The Big East preseason media poll had the Bulls second, and USF was one of only two teams receiving first place votes.
So, the consensus seems to be the talent is there.
Here are a few storylines I'll be anticipating, as the Bulls spend August preparing for the program's 178th game on Sept. 1:
The early schedule: The trip to Nevada certainly stands out in the early season, but Bulls fans know it is all about the Big East. USF goes to Reno on Sept, 8. Not an easy trip and not an easy place to play. Don't discount the altitude (about 4,500 feet in Reno). It was more of a factor than some people realized when we played at Utah in 2001. Five days after Reno, the Bulls face Rutgers on a Thursday night in the conference opener. I'm looking forward to going to Nevada and I'm looking forward to the Bulls hosting Florida State on Sept. 29, but the Rutgers game on Sept. 13 is the key game in the first month.
The backup quarterback battle: Think about this. In 15 seasons of football, three men have been the primary USF quarterback for all but four of those years. Marquel Blackwell started for four years, Matt Grothe for three, and now BJ Daniels for four. (That of course counts Daniels taking over for Grothe after Matt's senior year injury). What happens when BJ is done? We'll get a hint when we see whether Matt Floyd or Bobby Eveld emerges as the number two guy this year. Then in 2013 we will see if it is one of those guys, or if a newcomer emerges and sets up another long term situation at the quarterback spot.
The wide receivers: Was it only two years ago that the Bulls were recruiting running backs and defensive backs to move to wide receiver? The coaches weren't kidding when they said they were going to emphasize this position in recruiting. There have been some great pass catchers in USF history, but I don't think we've ever entered a season with a wide receiver corps like this. Who emerges as the go-to guy? Who makes the clutch third down catches? Will there be enough footballs in the air to keep everyone happy? A nice problem to have. These guys will be fun to watch and the competition among them should be intense.
The kicking game: Maikon Bonani is back and that's good news. I'll always remember his game winning kick against Kansas, but I'll also always remember his press conference appearance after missing a game winning kick against Rutgers. Believe me one was as impressive as the other. He's a tough competitor, and he'll be solid in 2012. But what about the punting game? The position seems pretty wide open now. It will be a key part of improving special teams play this year.
The defense: The Bulls had pretty good stability in the coaching staff this year with the exception of the defensive coordinator position. Chris Cosh joins the Bulls with a world of experience, a history of coaching with Skip Holtz, and a fast and talented defense with strong senior leadership. That ought to be a pretty good combination.
So there it is. Plenty to look forward to. Right after Vero the team will go to Raymond James Stadium for the annual fan day on Aug.19 from 2-4 PM. This is one of your best chances all year to mix and mingle with players and coaches, so I hope you can join us.
I'm very happy to report that our radio crew of Mark Robinson, Mike Pepper, Jim Lighthall, Justin Pawlowski and Ed Pendino all return and will join me for 2012. We'll be on a new station, The Fan 98.7. You'll find that we are all a lot better looking on FM.
I'll be visiting Vero in a few days and will file a report or two from there. The hardcore coverage, with much better analysis than I can provide, will come from our own Tom Zebold right here on GoUSFBulls.com.
Less than 30 days to go!
Take heart Bulls fans, it's almost time.
The voice of the Bulls, Jim Louk, offers his perspective of USF Athletics, both past and present.
For 29 years, Jim Louk has been the voice of USF Athletics.
Louk came to USF in 1983 as the radio play-by-play announcer for the USF men's basketball team and served as the lead voice until the conclusion of the 1996-97 season. He then made the transition to football in USF's inaugural 1997 campaign, and still serves as the team's play-by-play announcer today. Louk will come into the 2012 football season having broadcast every Bulls football game in history - a span of 177 games.
He has handled USF TV play by play broadcasts on SportsChannel, Fox Sports Florida, and Brighthouse Sports Network. His career includes over 1,500 play by play broadcasts of USF events, including football, men's and women's basketball, baseball, softball, men's and women's soccer and volleyball.
This series of articles for GoUSFBulls.com began in 2010.
A native of Rochester, N.Y., Louk is a 1979 graduate of the University of Bridgeport where he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism. Louk and his wife Barbara reside in Lutz. Their son Ross is a sophomore in college.