Practice notes: Bulls head off to Vero
Saturday's practice gives me a chance to introduce our USF correspondent for the fall, Ian Lanphier, who was editor-in-chief at the Oracle last year and will be helping us out with practice notes and sidebars at home football games. Here's his first report from USF football practice:
TAMPA -– After three productive days of practice in Tampa, USF begins its second consecutive year of fall camp today in Vero Beach, where the team plans to lay the groundwork to win the Big East this season.
Coach Skip Holtz said he liked the energy he saw during the team’s first day of practice with pads Saturday.
“I really enjoy working with this team, just to come out here the way they’re working together,” he said. “This team is really focused right now. I thought they came out here and had a really focused practice. It was intense. There was hitting going on out there. I’m really pleased with the attitude and the work habits of this team.”
The team planned to board buses following practice to head to Vero, where it will spend 12 days in camp training in anticipation of its Sept. 3 showdown with No. 18 Notre Dame. Holtz said the team will get to work right away in preparation for a successful camp.
“We’re gonna have a team meeting where we’ll really start talking about camp and putting this thing together," he said. "I think the players are really excited about it, but we got a good day’s workout of it today.”
WAITING GAME: Highly touted transfer tight end Mike McFarland practiced with the team Saturday, a day after the team announced he was joining the program from Florida.
Holtz said McFarland, 6-foot-5 and 245 pounds, is going through a five-day acclimatization period where he must wear shorts during practice. The Bulls are awaiting word on whether McFarland will receive a hardship waiver and avoid sitting out for a season like most Division I transfers.
“(McFarland’s) a big body, but he’s in the same boat," he said. "He’s like the rest of them right now. He’s swimming, drinking through a fire hose, and it’s all just being thrown at him really quick. But he is a big, athletic, good looking young man. I’m really anxious to watch his development with everything.”
THIS AND THAT: Cornerbacks coach Rick Smith said the depth at safety makes it the strength of the defense heading into the season … Smith said sophomore strong safety JaQuez Jenkins, a second-teamer, has three interceptions in as many practices … Junior wide receiver Evan Landi said the Vero experience brought team unity last season that made the team as close as any he’s played on, and he expects more of the same this year.