The University of South Florida men's soccer team won't ease into this season.
Friday night at 7, the Bulls open against the Michigan Wolverines at USF's Corbett Soccer Stadium in a match televised by the Fox Soccer Channel.
"I think it's great to start with a very tough opponent because you want to get answers,'' USF coach George Kiefer said. "You want to sort out things that you don't want to be learning in Big East play.
"Our players like being in this type of environment. Everything is a little bit more intense. The Michigan jersey will certainly wake the guys up Friday night. We're talking about a team that is two years removed from being in the Final Four.''
But Michigan's 2011 season (5-14-1) was highly disappointing. The Wolverines will attempt to rally around first-year coach Chaka Daley, formerly of Providence College, and eight returning starters.
USF, ranked No. 5 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America preseason poll, was 13-4-4 last season and reached the NCAA tournament's Elite Eight before losing at Creighton. The Bulls have key performers to replace, chiefly midfielder Dom Dwyer, now in Major League Soccer, and goalkeeper Chris Blais.
The Bulls lost 1-0 against the University of Tampa in Saturday's exhibition game on an own goal, but Kiefer is drawing positives from that, saying, "The players will hear you a lot louder when you (have a loss).''
Either way, Kiefer is glad to start the regular season at home.
"You can go to other places and maybe they have higher (attendance), but when you put 2,000 or 3,000 in Corbett the way it's built, where they're on top of you, there's not a lot of programs that experience that,'' Kiefer said. "We're going to make them a little bit more uncomfortable in that environment.
"That's why we value all the students who come out to the games. The place can really come alive.''
After a 2011-12 academic year filled with athletic accomplishments, things didn't slow down much during USF's summer. Among the notables:
Winter Park High's Asiantii Woulard, an oral commitment to USF, was named most valuable player at the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp. He was chosen over quarterbacks headed to Arizona State, California, Maryland, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Penn State and USC. "I was blown away by Asiantii,'' said former Bucs QB Trent Dilfer, who was head instructor for the ESPN-produced event.
USF women's soccer (1-1) travels to Indiana on Friday night. The Bulls are coming off a 1-0 win against Miami, which defeated No. 21-ranked Florida, 4-1. … The volleyball team, under new coach Courtney Draper, begins Friday night at 7 against Wisconsin in the USF Invitational. Creighton and UCF also are in the tournament, which concludes Sunday. … The Skip Holtz Radio Show returns Tuesday night at 6 on 98.7 The Fan. After shifting its live location throughout the area, it will be held each Tuesday at the Beef O'Brady's in Temple Terrace, on the corner of Busch Boulevard and 56th Street.