Mitchell could make first splash on returns
Freshman cornerback Terrence Mitchell has a future as a cornerback with the Bulls, but the Hillsborough grad could make his first impact on returns, where he's getting a long look on both kickoffs and punts.
"He's a talent, and he could definitely help this team," coach Skip Holtz said. "You have to start with a trust factor, with who you feel you can put back there to secure the ball. That's where it starts, and then once you find the guy that can secure it, you want to find the guy who can run it to the house. We might have one guy catch it and hand it to another guy if we can't get the best combination of both."
Mitchell is getting a look to line up deep on kickoffs, along with receiver Dontavia Bogan, who holds most of the school's kickoff return records, along with receiver Lindsey Lamar and cornerback Kayvon Webster. Holtz said he hasn't decided on his punt returner yet -- last year's primary returner, receiver Faron Hornes, is back, competing with Lamar, Mitchell and walk-on running back Johnny Sitton.
Holtz was known for having strong special-teams units at East Carolina, and he said there's plenty of room for USF to improve on its place in the league standings on special teams last season.
"I think we were sixth (punting), seventh (punt return) and eighth (field goals, kickoff return) in three aspects of the kicking game in the league, and there's only eight teams in the league," Holtz said. "That's definitely an area we have an opportunity to improve on tremendously, and we're going to need to if we're going to be a good football team."
WIN ONE FIRST: The Bulls open with I-AA Stony Brook, with a trip to No. 3 Florida a week later, but Holtz said he's not thinking about holding anything back to hide anything from the Gators.
"I want to win the first game. We'll play the second game the second game," he said. "I don't want to go in as a first-year coach and say, 'OK, we're going to hold this and this and this,' and then you find yourself in the fourth quarter, fighting, kicking, scratching, biting, clawing, whatever you've got to do to win. We have to get this team ready to play a game, just as we would if we were playing the Virginia Techs or North Carolinas or the people we played at East Carolina."
THIS AND THAT: In discussing true freshmen he expects to play this season, Holtz said he is also strongly considering walk-on Stephen Bravo-Brown, who has made a quick impression after working with former NFL star Cris Carter at St. Thomas Aquinas in Fort Lauderdale. ... The team will hold its final scrimmage of the preseason tonight, though Holtz said it'll be more of a dress rehearsal than something to change the depth chart in preparation for the Sept. 4 opener.