Quick tempo, young QBs headline first scrimmage
VERO BEACH -- After waiting nearly two hours through a lightning delay, USF pushed through its first preseason scrimmage with an markedly uptempo offense, one that's geared to prepare the Bulls defense for what it will face in key tests this fall.
"We've talked about the tempo Pittsburgh's going to bring and West Virginia's going to bring," Holtz said. "I've played (Pittsburgh coach) Todd Graham at Tulsa, and it comes fast. We're going to be ready for it. Notre Dame ran it quite a bit at the end of last year. Everything we can do to condition our players to that fast tempo ... once somebody gets you on your heels, it's very difficult to recover on game day. That's why I want to get to the point it doesn't matter who gives it to us, our players are not going to bat an eye, they're not going to blink. They're going to say 'We did that in camp. This isn't any big deal. Let's do what we do."
With starting QB B.J. Daniels held out after tweaking his left hamstring this week, sophomore Bobby Eveld and true freshman Matt Floyd took most of the snaps -- Eveld went 12-for-20 for 150 yards, while Floyd went 18-for-25 for 161 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman receiver Deonte Welch.
"They did a really nice job, protected the ball for the most part," Holtz said. "They're both still young and need to continue to keep coming. I think Bobby's a little bit ahead of Matt right now, just because he's got a whole other year in the program. Matt, for a true freshman to do what he's doing, is impressive."
Holtz focused on his backups, trying to solidify a two-deep depth chart to focus reps in the remaining three weeks on the players he'll use in the opener Sept. 3 at Notre Dame.
"The best analogy for me to use, this is like that first (NFL) preseason game where you have to make some decisions on your depth chart," Holtz said. "The 1s only got about 12 plays and the 2s and 3s got about 45 or 50. That's where we need to make our decisions. We've got to build depth. ... We're going to have to draw that line somewhere, make decisions on who we're going to work with and who we're not going to work with."
In the battle for the No. 3 running back job, sophomore Marcus Shaw looked solid, rushing 13 times for 51 yards, while sophomore Bradley Battles had eight carries for 1 yard.
Defensively, true freshman Elkino Watson dominated while playing against fellow reserves, totaling five tackles for loss, including two sacks of Floyd in a span of three plays.
"Elkino Watson did a really nice job -- he's had a great camp," Holtz said. "I'll have to watch the film. Is it more people missing blocks and opening, or is he making plays. From what I saw, he's making plays. He's a talent."
INJURY UPDATE: Starting left tackle Mark Popek was complaining of headaches after the opening series and did not return, Holtz said. Walk-on cornerback Ernie Tabuteau was limited by back spasms. ... Daniels is expected to return to full speed in practice in the next few days. The Bulls have Sunday off, with two practices Monday and one each on Tuesday and Wednesday before returning to Tampa.
THIS AND THAT: Holtz, talking about injured defensive tackle Demi Thompson, mistakenly called him "Demi Moore" in talking to the media after the scrimmage ... Senior defensive end Claude Davis played well, sacking Eveld on back-to-back plays. ... Sophomore walk-on receiver Stephen Bravo-Brown played well, catching passes of 35 and 23 yards from Floyd. ... Former Lakewood standout Corey Henderson, a cornerback who was a walk-on on Florida's 2008 national championship team, graduated from Florida last week and is hoping to walk on at USF as a graduate transfer this fall. ... Former Armwood cornerback Mywan Jackson, who is transferring after two seasons at North Carolina, said Saturday that USF is among the schools he's considering. USF has two scholarships available after reserve players left the program in the past week.