Bulls bracing for stout test against Towson tailback
Arguably the most underrated ball carrier the Bulls defense will see all season happens to be majoring in electronic media and film.
But it's the footage of -- and not by -- Towson senior Darius Victor that USF defensive line coach Eric Mathies can't put down.
Seemingly crafted from the Ray Rice mold, Victor (5-foot-8, 227 pounds) seeks his third consecutive 1,000-yard season operating behind the same offensive line from 2015. Last fall, he ran 207 times for 1,021 yards and 15 touchdowns, including a monstrous effort (28 carries, 137 yards) in a 28-20 loss to East Carolina.
"A horse," Mathies said Monday.
"I've watched every game he's played at least three times since the summer to now, and every time he impressed me more and more because of his balance, his power, his finishing runs, he's falling forward."
Nonetheless, Mathies, whose unit helped the Bulls rank 31st nationally against the run (141.4 ypg) in 2015, said his front will attack Victor the same way it will go after the far sleeker, shiftier backs (i.e. Dalvin Cook) on its schedule.
"You've got to make sure you gang tackle, you've got to run to the football and you've got to be in your gaps," Mathies said. "You can't give good backs seams. You give good backs seams and they're gonna hurt you."
BLACK IS BACK: A year after a redshirt freshman season abbreviated by a torn hamstring, third-year sophomore DE Josh Black said he's finally healthy.
"Early in the morning, I try to be the first one up here every morning to get treatment so I can stay healthy so I can be ready to go this year," the Sickles High alumnus said.
Lining up mainly in the five-technique -- or directly over the tight end -- this fall, Black was limited to five games last season, but started against UCF. Two seasons prior to that, he had 20 sacks as a Gryphons senior and was named the Tampa Bay Times' Defensive Player of the Year for Hillsborough County.
"He's doing the things that you expected Josh to do when you recruited him," Mathies said. "He's still got to shake off that rust. He's still a year not playing, and that's tough. But he's starting to figure it out. He's gonna make some big plays this year for us."
ODDS AND ENDS: Quinton Flowers is on the watch list for the Manning Award, which bills itself as the only college quarterback award that considers a candidate's bowl performance in its balloting. Flowers had a 60-yard TD pass to Marquez Valdes-Scantling against the first-team defense Monday morning, according to the Bulls' official Twitter feed. ... OL Grant Polk, a Virginia transfer, participated in Monday's practice. Polk is sitting out this year per NCAA transfer rules. ... Ralph Russo of the Associated Press picks USF to win the American Athletic Conference.
AUDIBLE: "I think overall it probably was not our best day, because Coach (Willie Taggart) demands us to come out here and thrive for perfection. I don't know if we thrived for perfection today." -- Mathies on Monday morning's practice, when humidity was hovering around 60 percent and feel-like temperatures were flirting with 100.