Grothe's injury scare, plus a new kicker
You could argue that there's no such thing as a minor injury for USF quarterback Matt Grothe this season. So the Bulls got a significant scare -- but apparently just that -- on Monday afternoon as the sophomore walked gingerly off the practice field, holding his groin.
Offensive coordinator Greg Gregory said the injury was not serious and that Grothe was expected to practice with the team at Tuesday's morning session. "It wasn't anything. He just needed some ice for his groin," Gregory said. "He's fine. That was nothing. He was able to go the whole practice."
Quarterback depth remains a concern with USF -- while top backup Grant Gregory has earned praise from coaches, he hasn't thrown a pass in an actual game since 2003, and the only other quarterback expected to play this fall is former walk-on Anthony Severino. We'll keep close tabs on Grothe's condition in the next few days.
NEW KICKER: Come Monday, when fall classes begin and the Bulls can extend their roster beyond the preseason limit of 105 players, there will be a late addition to USF's kicking competition.
His name is Morgan Riley, and he was an all-county kicker at Seminole High in 2003, playing two seasons at Division I-AA Murray State in 2004-05. He went 37-for-40 on extra points, but struggled with field goals, going 1-for-8 his freshman year. He came home to Seminole after spring 2006 to rehab a knee injury and started classes last fall at USF, where he spent the past year.
"He was a weapon for us," said Seminole coach Sam Roper, who also had the 6-foot-1, 190-pounder starting at defensive back his senior year. "He's a natural at it and he's capable of helping them out."
Riley, who has two years of eligibility left, will likely have the best shot to compete for the kickoff job, currently held by walk-on Justin Teachey, who could also handle punting duties. Sophomore Delbert Alvarado is likely the place-kicker but could also see action on punts. Another player who could join the team is former Lake Gibson kicker Ryan South, who has talked with coaches about walking on. The Bulls have been carrying two fewer kickers than they did last season, when Mike Benzer and walk-on Anthony Leandri were also on the roster.
HESS INJURED: Walk-on linebacker Houston Hess, USF's top special-teams tackler last season, has been sidelined by a knee injury and could have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday, coach Jim Leavitt said. The severity of the injury isn't known -- defensive coordinator Wally Burnham seemed to think he might be able to just recover with a little rest. Hess' absence will be felt mainly on special teams, but Leavitt said he has other players who can fill his special-teams role.
AUBURN UPDATE: We'd told you this morning that USF's allotment of 2,400 tickets for the Auburn game was sold out. Bulls fans interested in buying tickets in the USF areas of the stadium should focus on sections 35, 36, 112, 113 and 115. Talked to Auburn about the tickets Monday, and while the opponents' allotment varies from one contract to another -- SEC opponents generally get more, I was told -- it is worth noting that Auburn's season-opening opponent, Kansas State, has not yet sold out its allotment.