The question: Who steps in for Mompremier?
With weakside linebacker Brouce Mompremier sidelined at least two games after injuring his neck in Saturday's win against FIU, the question now is how USF will fill the hole in its defensive lineup.
USF had lined up almost exclusively in a nickel package Saturday until Mompremier's injury -- can't say I saw a third linebacker at all up to that point -- which explains why starting middle linebacker Kion Wilson didn't have a tackle in the game. Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham likes the speed he has on the field with five defensive backs, so now he must decide which linebacker is the best complement to Tyrone McKenzie in such a package.
It could be Wilson, but he has only six tackles in four games but might be better suited against a run-first offense. N.C. State has struggled with its running game -- just 419 total rushing yards in four games, as opposed to 762 for USF. The Bulls could turn to sophomore Sabbath Joseph, who had the strongside job at one point in preseason before USF opted to put McKenzie there and start Wilson in the middle. Joseph has eight tackles in a reserve role, and a third option could be junior Chris Robinson, who was a potential strongside starter this summer but fell out of contention; he's worked primarily as a third-down defensive end this fall.
USF's new depth chart released Sunday night shows McKenzie as the starting weakside linebacker, since he's often on that side in the nickel defense. It lists Robinson as the strongside starter, but that might just be because he was the top backup there under McKenzie.
USF coach Jim Leavitt said Sunday that his coaches haven't yet discussed or decided what the best choice is to replace Mompremier. It could be a combination of the players mentioned, depending on the circumstances of the play and the offensive tendencies of USF's opponent. We'll know more in the next few days ...