Bulls experimenting on both sides of ball
USF's fifth practice of fall Friday morning suggests that the Bulls are still tinkering with their starting lineup at key positions.
Take linebacker, where USF has been consistent in saying that senior Tyrone McKenzie would move from strongside to start in the middle, with sophomore Sabbath Joseph in line to take over at strongside. But Friday morning, junior Kion Wilson -- who'd been limited by injury in spring drills -- was lined up as the first-team middle linebacker, with McKenzie back as the starting strongside linebacker. Senior Brouce Mompremier remains entrenched as the starting weakside linebacker.
There was another wrinkle in the first-team look on the offensive line Friday. We'd told you Wednesday that starting center Jake Griffin watched from the sidelines while the Bulls gave center reps to guard Ryan Schmidt. Well Friday, there was a new combination, with Griffin back at center, Schmidt shifted to left tackle and Marc Dile flipping sides to right tackle.
It brings a curious question: For all the confidence USF's coaches have shown in former walk-on Jake Sims at right tackle, do the Bulls want to start an unproven lineman when doing so would put an experienced starter on the sidelines? USF has three guards with at least a full season of starting experience -- Schmidt, Zach Hermann and Matt Huners -- and Schmidt, back in December, had mentioned that coaches were considering using him at tackle.
The second-team line Friday? Sims was working at center, with redshirt freshman Jeremiah Warren at left tackle, walk-ons Chaz HIne and Joe Herzhauser at guard and redshirt freshman Mike McGowan at right tackle. It's barely a week into practice, but right now, it appears true freshmen Mark Popek and Damian Edwards aren't working with the top two units.
One more bit of news Friday morning: Another big name getting a look on returns, as sophomore receiver Carlton Mitchell was one of four guys lining up deep on kickoff returns.