Bulls offense undergoing makeover

TAMPA, Fla. -- Skip Holtz insists he doesn't know exactly what the South Florida offense will look like in 2010 because he doesn't know all the strengths and weaknesses of his players yet. But bet on one thing: the Bulls will look different in their offensive attack.

Think fewer quarterback runs, more two-back sets and even some Wildcat packages. Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch describes the system as having "a strong spread to it, but with more multiple sets and personnel groupings than they had here in the past."

The biggest difference may be the running philosophy. In each of the last four years, the quarterback has led the Bulls in rushing. Fitch doesn't want that to be the case this year, especially with the lack of depth behind B.J. Daniels.

"It will be more of a vertical, downhill running attack," he said. "I think you need it to complement the passing game, and you need it for the defense. We're going to see some physical running teams in this conference, and it's critical that our defense see that in the spring and summer."

South Florida has a multitude of potential running backs, but Fitch says Mo Plancher is farther advanced now than others. Plancher recently was awarded a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA. He emerged from the pack as the starter a year ago as well.

"Every year seems like we have about 10 guys competing for one spot," Plancher said. "That just makes you better. I'm just trying to do everything I can to earn my scholarship."

Fitch also mentioned Bradley Battles and Demetris Murray as potential contributors at running back.

"They have some physical running styles," he said. "I don't think we have a gamebreaker among those three. But I think we have move-the-chain guys who should be able to create yardage on their own. And they all should be good in pass protection."

The one potential gamebreaker back in the group is Lindsey Lamar, whom Fitch calls "the wild card." Lamar is one of the top sprinters in the Big East, and one of Fitch's goals is to find ways to get him out in space so he can use his speed. That could mean in the backfield, in the slot at receiver or even in Wildcat packages. Fitch and Holtz used the Wildcat a lot at East Carolina.

"We won't mess with it much this spring because that's a whole new language," Fitch said. "But in fall camp, if we have a player we feel matches the talent level for that position, we'll work it in."

South Florida mostly ran four-wide and five-wide receiver sets with Daniels in the shotgun last year. Fitch said the team's base would be the 11 personnel, or having a tight end and running back on the field with three wide receivers. And Daniels could be under center a lot more to help the running and play-action games.

Fitch is concerned about the depth on the offense everywhere except the offensive line, where the Bulls return all of their top contributors from a year ago. Another bonus is that many of those players can play multiple positions, and the coaching staff is using the spring to mix and match and see who fits best where.

"Sampson Genus is not 100 percent, but when he's going he can control the middle," Fitch said. "I think he's a guy you build around. Jacob Sims has played them all -- center, guard and tackle -- and he'll be invaluable. And those guys as seniors can be your leaders. We probably know who the first eight or nine are there, and were trying to find the best five."

This is the third straight season that the Bulls have had a new offensive coordinator, though last year Mike Canales was promoted from within and kept much of the terminology the same. This year is a bigger adjustment.

"It's a big learning curve," receiver A.J. Love said. "We're drinking through a fire hose right now."

When the finished product is unveiled, South Florida's offense should look a lot different.