Good news for linemen Popek, Sims
Here are Thursday's practice notes from Times correspondent Jon Santucci:
VERO BEACH -- USF got good news Thursday afternoon as sophomore tackle Mark Popek was diagnosed with a second-degree sprain of the MCL in his right knee. He is expected to miss three to six weeks.
"Well, it's better than worst-case scenario," Bulls coach Skip Holtz said. "When you look at it, when you saw it on film and you saw what happened to him, I think it's best case. He's a great young man. We need him on this team. We're just hoping for a speedy and healthy recovery."
Popek, who was on crutches Thursday, was injured when a player rolled into his knee Wednesday. Holtz said Popek had begun to rehabilitate the knee. While Popek will miss some time, tackle Jake Sims returned to the field. Sims had been held out of practice since Sunday as a precaution due to concussion-like symptoms.
"I feel good -- fresh legs," Sims said.
Holtz said having players get nicked up during two-a-days is to be expected and actually allows second- and third-string players to get more experience. Sims echoed Holtz's comments.
"I think this has been good," Sims said. "(Freshman tackle Quinterrious Eatmon) has been getting a lot of reps, and it's building great depth."
Holtz has been pleased with the improvement of the offense so far. Sophomore B.J. Daniels said he's been feeling more comfortable in the new system.
"I'm getting comfortable. I'm not 100 percent there yet," said Daniels, who threw for 1,983 yards and 14 touchdowns last season and added another 772 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. "No matter what system I'm in, I just want to focus on helping the team get better. It is similar in a lot of ways to the old system. I'm just under center a lot more now."
Holtz added the receiving unit was taking shape, mentioning Evan Landi, Dontavia Bogan and Isaac Virgin. The team will practice in shorts Friday before scrimmaging Saturday. Holtz said the coaching staff will wait until after the scrimmage to evaluate possible position changes and which freshmen might redshirt.
Sophomore CB Kayvon Webster had a nice practice, breaking up two passes in 7-on-7 drills. In 11-on-11 drills, junior CB Tyson Butler intercepted a Jamius Gunsby pass and returned it 20 yards for a touchdown and Terrence Mitchell made a diving interception on a tipped ball. Daniels connected with Landi on a catch and run for about 25 yards.