First spring practice: How the Bulls are lining up
We've mentioned here before that USF coach Skip Holtz likes his players to stretch before practice in what I like to call the human depth chart formation, with offense and defense facing each other, the starters in the front line, then backups behind them and so on. It's not an exact top-to-bottom depth chart, but you can generally read a lot just by where players are lined up when they're warming up and going through the initial position drills.
So having watched the first half-hour of USF's first spring practice, there's observations to be made, even if Holtz has made it clear his staff won't assemble its own first depth chart until after USF's first scrimmage, which is March 26, after two full weeks of drills. Here's what we saw, and you can take it with as much or as little significance as you'd like ...
-- With a big hole at strongside linebacker and two proven middle linebackers returning in Sam Barrington and Michael Lanaris, USF had Barrington lined up at strongside on Thursday, with Lanaris as the first-team middle. That could also just point to the obvious challengers at strong being brand-new. At this point, they're lining up on experience as much as anything, with newcomers Mike Jeune and Antoine Pozniak lined up with the third string at their first practice.
-- Starting offensive line as the Bulls lined up for the first time? Again, it's a nod toward experience: left-to-right, it was Mark Popek, Jeremiah Warren, Kevin McCaskill, Chaz Hine and Damien Edwards. The second-string line had Darren Powe, John McGhin, Danous Estenor, Steven Jacques and Quinterrius Eatmon. When the quarterbacks worked out before practice, the three players snapping were McCaskill, Estenor and McGhin, and it'll be interesting to see if Estenor can challenge McCaskill for the starting center job.
-- Your defensive lines, with no big surprises: First line had Ryne Giddins and Patrick Hampton at ends, Cory Grissom and Keith McCaskill at tackles; second had Julius Forte and Claude Davis at ends, Luke Sager and Anthony Hill at tackles; third had Brandon Wilkinson and two walk-ons splitting at end, with Todd Chandler and Demi Thompson at tackles.'
-- Your defensive secondary, again as expected: Quenton Washington and Kayvon Webster at corner, Jon Lejiste and Jerrell Young at safety; second unit with Tyson Butler and George Baker at corner, Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins at safety; Spencer Boyd and three walk-ons in the third group.
-- The running back hierarchy: Demetris Murray, Darrell Scott, Dontae Aycock, Marcus Shaw. Quarterbacks: B.J. Daniels, Bobby Eveld, Jamius Gunsby, Matt Floyd, walk-on Brandon Smith. The receivers stretched with A.J. Love, Evan Landi and Faron Hornes on the first line, Terrence Mitchell, Sterling Griffin and Victor Marc on second line, Stephen Bravo-Brown, Deonte Welch and walk-on Jordan Duval third line.
-- More to come after first practice, including our first interview with running back Darrell Scott ...