Linebacker Jeune earning reputation as big hitter
We asked running back Darrell Scott on Wednesday who had impressed him on USF's defense this spring, and the name he offered is an encouraging one for Bulls fans: Mike Jeune, the junior college transfer who enrolled in January and is competing for time at strongside linebacker.
"He's hitting a lot of people, knocking our fullbacks to the ground," Scott said. "He's bringing the wood."
USF's coaches seem to think so as well. Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said that for the final six practices of spring, he's moved Sam Barrington back to middle linebacker, allowing Jeune and redshirt freshman Reshard Cliett to split the reps at strongside.
"I've been pleased," Snyder said. "I was pleased with what I saw today from both those guys. It'll be interesting to see when they're going with the 1s and 2s on Saturday with me off the field. They did some good things Saturday. I tell you what: They both can fly."
WHICH IS BIGGER?: USF has its spring game Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, then wraps up spring practice with a "Green and Gold Bowl" exhibition on campus April 9. So which one is more significant to coaches? Holtz said Saturday's event won't be a traditional spring game with players drafted to two teams, but he said fans should still enjoy what they see.
"It won't be a spring game, so to speak. It'll be a great football scrimmage," Holtz said. "Guys are going to be competing for a job in this scrimmage, so there will be a lot of competition going on. What you're trying to get done is roll up the ball and compete and see where all these guys are so you formulate that depth chart. ... Then on the 9th, it'll be a little bit more of a divvying up the teams a little bit more and doing it that way. I think the one Saturday will be a great evaluation of where we are as a football team."
More, later: "I love spring games. This just isn't your typical, it's not your last scrimmage. You're trying to get certain things done in your first scrimmage, certain things done in your second scrimmage, and your third scrimmage is that spring game. This second scrimmage is a work scrimmage for us. ... It'll be a great opportunity for people to see the talent that's here."
BY THE NUMBERS: Redshirt freshman Chris Veron has moved ahead of last year's punter, Justin Brockhaus-Kann, and Holtz said it's simply because his spring averages are higher than Brockhaus-Kann. Veron is averaging 45.5 yards on punts this spring, and Holtz said that's from about 20 punts a day for 10 practices. Holtz was candid about Brockhaus-Kann's second-half struggles after a strong start last season.
"He was averaging about 45 yards a punt through the first three or four games, and then all the sudden, things started going downhill," Holtz said. "(Brockhaus-Kann) struggled in the second half of the season, and we were torn. Do you pull the (red) shirt off Veron at that point in time? We made the decision not to and told them both they'll have a chance to compete this spring. Punting is an exact science. You average this, your hang time is this, your get-off is this. Those are measurables. Those are numbers sitting in front of you. Those competitions are pretty black-and-white, pretty cut-and-dry. Right now, Veron has better numbers."
THE NEXT BIG WALK-ON?: In running through his top stories of spring Wednesday, Holtz mentioned walk-on cornerback Ernie Tabuteau, a transfer from Miles College who is listed as a second-teamer on the latest depth chart due to injuries in the secondary.
"Ernie's been there every day, he's been showing up, has done a nice job," Holtz said. "I think he's got an opportunity to be in the mix."
Tabuteau made enough plays at Miles he has a five-minute highlight clip on Youtube -- you'll see some solid plays on kick coverage, which is where he's most likely to make an impact for USF this fall.
THIS AND THAT: Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch pointed out that of USF's 22 sacks allowed last season, 17 came on early downs, so there's a focus on pass protection early in series to avoid setting up third-and-long situations. ... Running back Marcus Shaw had surgery on his broken left thumb, so he's out four to six weeks before he's back at full strength. Will be fine for two-a-days in August. ...