'Spread' offense: 15 receivers and counting
We've talked since the preseason about the depth and balance of USF's offense, with a slew of returning receivers and five running backs rotating through the backfield. Want to quantify that depth? After five games, USF already has 15 different players who have caught passes -- eight receivers, four running backs and three tight ends. Only four schools in the country have passed to more players than USF -- Troy has 18 different targets this season, followed by Oklahoma, Florida State and Miami with 16.
There's even balance at the top of USF's receptions list, with five players -- receivers Jessie Hester, Taurus Johnson, A.J. Love and Carlton Mitchell, plus tight end Cedric Hill -- with at least 10 receptions. Of the 15 teams who have at least 15 players with a catch, only two other schools -- Georgia and Oklahoma -- have even four players with 10 receptions. Connecticut, which has 15 players with catches, doesn't have any receiver with 10.
Crazier still, the Bulls could easily increase that number from 15 players with catches -- they finished last season with 17 such players. Three more possibilities to join the long list in the next few games:
Colby Erskin, receiver: Erskin missed more than a year recovering from two ACL tears in the same knee, but made his season debut late in Saturday's game at N.C. State. Erskin, who was timed as USF's fastest player in spring 2007 before his injuries, could easily crack the two-deep once he's shown he's fully recovered.
Richard Kelly, running back: Of USF's five primary backs, he's the only one without a catch. The other four -- Mike Ford, Ben Williams, Jamar Taylor and Mo Plancher -- have combined for just seven catches, but don't be surprised if they start getting more throws, since USF likes to have them come out of the backfield in motion and line up at receiver. All it takes to join the list is one dumpoff screen pass ...
Daniel Bryant, receiver: He drew all kinds or praise in August, was said to be playing right away as a true freshman, but we haven't seen him since he returned a punt 6 yards in the opener. He's working on the scout team now, so he's got to get back on the travel roster if he's going to catch a pass ...
Don't rule out sophomore Jason Sherman, who had a pass thrown his way Saturday, or walk-on Jeffrey Wilson, who's listed on the two-deep but hasn't seen much playing time.