5 key players to watch this season

Posted: August 20, 2013 in Football

The 2013 season is at our door-steps and it is going to be a year of change.  Coach Taggart is starting from scratch, making all positions open and continuing to push everyone to battle for their jobs.   As the year begins, I, like most fans, will be watching to see how the team has changed since Skippy left.  But while I will be watching the entire team, there are a few players I’ll be paying close attention to this year.  I want to see if these particular players can live up to the hype we have attached to them and see if they can flourish in Coach Taggart’s systems.

Mike Pierre – Coach Taggart’s offense needs a solid running game to make it click and with Shaw not having the size to carry the running load, it falls on Mike Pierre to carry the burden.  Pierre sat out last year with a redshirt, but has been a full go this spring and fall and should become the number two back in the system.  Pierre has more size than Shaw and should be able to carry it 15-20 times a game if he shows he can make plays happen and gain yards.  I am a fan of Pierre and continue to hear how hard he works, from film study to competing on the field, all equaling a man that wants to make noise.  There are two freshmen behind him pushing for playing time, but I think Pierre gets more reps.

Aaron Lynch – Duh, right? The 6’6″ 244 lbs. defensive is all across draft boards and listed on nearly ever pre-season award watch list, building up the hype around him.  The real question is, can Lynch live up to all the hype that continues to follow him and produce on the field?  Two years ago, Lynch had 5.5 sacks for ND, but after sitting out a year, is he ready for the real show?  Many continue to praise him, but as a fan, I want to see it happen.  I miss the days of George Selvie and Jason Pierre-Paul off the edge, I hope he can resemble something close to that in his first year as a Bull on the field.  Just because he is all the talk on paper, doesn’t guarantee a huge year.  I want to see if happen.

Dede Lattimore – After a 94 tackle season the year before, Lattimore had a drop in production where he totaled just 76 tackles in 2012.  He had just 3.5 sacks compared to 7 sacks the year before.  Last season was a down year for Lattimore after he had been a star for the first few years, but most of that can be pointed at Skip and crew.  The lack of coaching and poor schemes put Lattimore out of place.  Late in the year, the moved him to middle linebacker, which took a little time for him to get accustomed to. Now with plenty of reps at middle linebacker, I would expect to see a strong season from Lattimore. He will have a coach that knows what he is doing and should have Lattimore in the right places to make plays

Mattias Ciabatti – Yes, a punter.  I have been hard on JBK the last few years for failing to kick it out of the park, but looking at the numbers, he was reliable last season. Now that he is gone, the position falls to Ciabatti (recently on scholarship as well).  The offense could be up and down this year, so having a punter that is reliable and can help the defense is huge for this team.  I want to see at least 40 yard per kick for Ciabatti this season.  The Bulls will need him to have a strong season and help change the battle of field position when needed.

Sean Price – Price had 6 grabs last season in an offense that couldn’t fight its way out of a paper bag.  Now with a more pro-style system in place, the tight end position will be looked on more to contribute to the offense.  Price, the former 4-star prospect, has loads of talent and now has a system that should make him a household name at the end of the year. I labeled Price in my Rush through the Roster series with having 25 grabs would be a solid season for him, but I want more. I want 35 or more catches for him and push defenses around the field.  I think he could have a break out season and he will need to with depth issues at wide receiver.

So tell me USF nation, who are you watching?

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