Rundown: Holtz on his new USF depth chart
Before we get to the important stuff about Skip Holtz explaining his first USF depth chart, I want to share another new development in uncovering more fun from the Holtz vocabulary.
In the Jim Leavitt days, the geographically nebulous area where injured players went during practice was known as "Muscle Beach," a popular if decidedly West Coast reference. Today, we learn that Holtz calls it "The Yellow Brick Road," after the long (actually not yellow) path that winds back up to USF's athletic facility .
Me: "Is that a 'Wizard of Oz' thing or an Elton John thing?
Holtz: "Ah, I'm probably more the Elton John era than I am the Wizard of Oz. They're all going to see the Wizard."
Quarterback: B.J. Daniels is the starter. Freshman walk-on Ryan Eppes "is a long way away from being ready to play," but is doing fine for a freshman walk-on eight practices into a new offense.
Running back: Mo Plancher is the starter, but offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said he has four backs who are playing well -- Plancher, Demetris Murray, Bradley Battles and Joel Miller. Holtz mentioned "Plancher, Battles and Miller," in that order.
Offensive line: Holtz basically has four starters set -- center Sampson Genus, guards Chaz Hine and Jeremiah Warren and right tackle Jake Sims. "Those guys are really starting to solidify themselves as starters," Holtz said. That leaves Jamar Bass and Mark Popek to duke it out for left tackle. Once Zach Hermann is back and healthy -- later this week -- he'll compete with the starting guards.
Fullbacks/Tight ends: Interesting, in that USF announced that Isaac Virgin was moving to fullback, but coaches said he'll continue to work some at tight end. Holtz said Richard Kelly is "more suited to be a fullback, the other four probably more suited to be tight ends." They'll cross-train between both positions.
Receiver: Holtz mentions A.J. Love, Dontavia Bogan and Sterling Griffin first, then Evan Landi. Then converted running back Lindsey Lamar: "I just feel like we've got to get him in space a little bit more," Holtz said. "When you look at his size, I just don't know that he's going to be able to hold up at the tailback position."
Defensive line: "Our front seven is probably the thing I'm most encouraged about," Holtz said. "There's 12 guys to rotate on your defensive line, and I've never had that many." He mentions seniors David Bedford and Craig Marshall first at defensive end, then Ryne Giddins, Patrick Hampton, Claude Davis and Julius Forte "showing some flashes of really good things ... but not consistent as they need to be." Inside, he mentions Keith McCaskill and Terrell McClain. The other four: Anthony Hill, Luke Sager, Leslie Stirrups and Cory Grissom.
Linebackers: Barrington is in the middle, Sabbath Joseph at weakside. DeDe Lattimore is moving from middle to weakside linebacker, so Mike Lanaris is the new backup middle linebacker. Jacquian Williams "has a chance to really be special," with Donte Spires as top backup. If you're checking, USF has linebackers named Sam and Mike, but both are Mike linebackers.
Defensive backs: Quenton Washington and Kayvon Webster have distanced themselves at cornerback. Daniel Bryant ("a really positive move") and George Baker would be next. At safety, Jon Lejiste and Mistral Raymond are working first-team, but Jerrell Young and JaQuez Jenkins are next in line.
Kicker: Eric Schwartz is listed as starter ahead of Maikon Bonani, though they're so close on a daily basis that Holtz said he listed Schwartz simply because he's the senior.
Holtz was asked if everyone seemed happy with the depth chart.
"No, I'm sure everybody's not happy with it," he said. "But as I told them, this is Scrimmage One. These aren't final. We didn't determine who's starting in the first game today. What we did was determine who our 1s, 2s and 3s are at this point. If you don't like where you are, then change it. Come out here on the practice field and make the most of it. Get in that meeting room, study your playbook, learn what you're supposed to do, come out here on the field and make a difference."
-- Running back Aston Samuels will have surgery on his injured ankle Tuesday. Holtz does not yet know how long he'll be sidelined or whether he could play this fall or not.