LB shift: Barrington at weakside, Lattimore in middle
You might not have noticed it in Saturday's USF loss at Louisville, but the Bulls' shift at linebacker was a little more complicated than even expected.
USF introduced sophomore Reshard Cliett at strongside linebacker, and he played well, finishing with nine tackles, one off the team lead. But senior Sam Barrington didn't move back to the middle, but rather to the weakside, with junior DeDe Lattimore, a starter there for all but one game in Skip Holtz's tenure, moving into the middle, where he's expected to stay next season.
"I thought DeDe did a really nice job at mike linebacker," Holtz said. "That was a big move for us. We felt like DeDe is more of a middle linebacker with his talents and his abilities. We've got Mike Lanaris, who had been playing there. We only played 58 plays as a defense, so we didn't get to play those backups as much as we'd like to."
The Bulls now feel confident in being two deep at all three linebacker positions, with true freshman Tashon Whitehurst backing up Barrington at weakside, senior Mike Lanaris as the backup in the middle, and redshirt freshman Zack Bullock behind Cliett at strongside. That gives the Bulls four of their top six linebackers back for 2013.
"I think those were big moves for us during the open date," Holtz said. "I think they really paid off for us. I thought our front seven really did an excellent job, especially against the run. You've got two (Louisville) running backs, both averaging five-point-something, and they averaged 2.5 each."