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Notes: Bulls defense preparing for 'elusive' Graham



Here's Monday's practice notes from Times correspondent Ian Lanphier ...


TAMPA -- USF coaches said a main concern for USF's defense will be limiting Pittsburgh RB Ray Graham, who leads the Big East in rushing at 127 yards per game, which ranks eighth in the country.

"Ray Graham scares me. He's pretty good ... He's the one who makes (the offense) go," defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said.

Holtz was also complimentary of Graham's abilities.

"He's so elusive," he said. "I mean, you look at him on film and it looks like he's down and he cuts back against the grain and he's very unpredictable. He is extremely quick. I think that's probably one of his biggest assets ... I think he's a special player."

PUNT OPTIONS: With speedy punt returner Terrence Mitchell out for Thursday's key Big East opener at Pittsburgh due to a concussion, USF will gauge a group of players who could serve in his absence, coach Skip Holtz said Monday.

WR Evan Landi, who replaced Mitchell but didn't make a return on a punt in the second half against UTEP, is one player Holtz trusts to fill the role. Landi gained experience by fielding punts during fall camp.

"We call him 'fair catch Landi,'" Holtz said. "I mean, he catches the ball. When you're looking at a backup punt returner, the one thing you want to make sure you can do is secure the ball. We just trust Evan with so many things because he's so accountable, reliable and dependable and he does everything the right way."

Holtz also named WRs Victor Marc, Andre Davis and Stephen Bravo-Brown as possible options at the position.

THIS AND THAT: USF is tied for fourth in the country with No. 1 LSU with a turnover margin of plus-eight. Overall, the Bulls have produced 13 takeaways, which is tied for third nationally. USF has recovered six fumbles so far this season, one more than all of last season combined.

[Last modified: Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:04am]


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