Sheer fun: Freshmen get welcomed ...
You knew it was coming. With media day, team pictures and Fan Fest coming Sunday, USF's freshman football players got the shaved-head treatment on Friday night, debuting their new looks at Saturday's morning practice.
Among those hit hardest? Kicker Maikon Bonani has a unique look, with a single tuft of his old hair front and center, while punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann has a horizontal ring of hair with the rest shaved above and below it. Upon seeing quarterback Evan Landi's new cut, USFnation.com's Josh Newberg asked me "How do you explain that in a newspaper?" You really can't, and a post like this is no fun without a pic -- hopefully Josh or Kyle over at USFnation will post a free one I can link to. Landi has the sides of his head shaved, but a full head of hair on top and in the back. Again, I'm in no position to criticize people's hair.
Actual news? Sure. Linebacker Chris Robinson, who got a smattering of praise from Jim Leavitt on Thursday, was working as the No. 2 strongside linebacker Saturday, moving ahead of Alonzo McQueen. Looked like Sabbath Joseph was still out after suffering a concussion that kept him out Friday, so Kion Wilson was still working as the first-team middle linebacker.
Defensive backs coach Troy Douglas came over to me to clarify something: I'd asked him Wednesday who USF's nickel defensive back was likely to be, and he said senior Danny Verpaele would be the strong safety and senior Carlton Williams would be the nickel. Douglas said when USF is in its regular defense with four DBs, Williams would be the strong safety right now, ahead of Verpaele.
It's becoming more clear though that USF will spend a significant amount of time in its nickel, with so many key games against teams that play some variation on the spread offense. The nickel allows both Williams and Verpaele -- experienced fifth-year guys who know the defense as well as anyone -- to both be on the field and help get players in the right position.
-- Fans will get to see the new Under Armour uniforms Sunday, but one thing is jarring to me: the number 7. The font on the new jerseys has a 7 that's like a capital L that's been rotated 180 degrees. Nobody writes a 7 with a right angle, so it looks odd, like somebody fashioned the 7 out of duct tape. So I feel bad for Louis Gachette, who wears 7, and especially bad for Jake Griffin, who's 77. Just looks odd.
-- What else? It's definitely a physical first week of practice -- we mentioned Joseph, and guard Zach Hermann was sidelined Saturday morning after taking a shot to the head in drills. The first-team line, with Griffin looking on: Marc Dile at left tackle, Matt Huners at left guard, Ryan Schmidt at center, Jeremiah Warren at right guard and Jake Sims at right tackle.