Spring notes: New faces contribute at receiver
Despite losing just one receiver from last season in senior Dontavia Bogan, USF could have an influx of new contributors this fall, if Saturday's spring game is any indication.
Of the 26 catches made by receivers Saturday, 19 came from a group of five players who combined for just one catch in all of 2010 -- five from freshman Deonte Welch, who redshirted last fall; three from Sterling Griffin, who missed the season with an ankle injury; four and two from Terrence Mitchell and Derrick Hopkins, who played but didn't have a catch; and five from Victor Marc, who had one catch as a freshman.
They'll challenge USF's more experienced receivers -- juniors Evan Landi and Lindsey Lamar and seniors Joel Miller and Faron Hornes -- for playing time this fall. The Bulls also hope to have A.J. Love healthy as a sixth-year senior -- he sat out Saturday's scrimmage as he continues to recover from surgery for an ACL tear he suffered in last year's spring game. Holtz said Love has recovered physically but is still working to build confidence in his surgically repaired knee.
-- After seeing spring-game attendance increase five years in a row, topping out at 6,405 last year (despite rain!), Saturday's crowd was significantly down, with 2,493 fans in attendance according to the Tampa Sports Authority. The 2 p.m. kickoff -- previous games were played at night -- likely contributed to the low turnout, as well as competing with Saturday's NCAA basketball semifinal games.
Because Raymond James Stadium is booked next weekend for the American Invitational equestrian show-jumping event, USF wasn't able to book the spring game as an end to spring practice -- the Bulls will hold a "Green and Gold Bowl" scrimmage on campus Saturday, so some fans may have chosen to attend that instead.
-- Asked why he allowed his quarterbacks to be "live" and take hits from defenders Saturday, Holtz said there are unintended problems that can come with giving passers a red non-contact jersey throughout scrimmages.
"I've seen quarterbacks that can stand there in practice and make every throw and never worry about getting hit, and then as soon as it becomes live, their eyes leave downfield and they start looking at the d-line," Holtz said. "I don't want to get anybody hurt, but that's how we're going to play the game in the fall. They've got to learn to stand in there and throw the ball and make some decisions, especially with the youth we have at quarterback."
-- USF countered the frequent blitzes with dumpoff passes to fullbacks out of the backfield -- Armando Sanchez and walk-on Chris Breit, who both moved from linebacker to fullback this spring, did well catching passes. Sanchez had two catches for 36 yards and Breit had two for 8 yards.
THIS AND THAT: Third-team defensive tackle Luke Sager had sacks on back-to-back plays. ... Linebacker Curtis Weatherspoon had a game-high seven tackles, including three for losses. ... Walk-on Brandon Smith held his own in two late series, going 4-for-7, including a 28-yard pass to Welch. Holtz called the game early, with 4:52 still remaining on the clock when the game ended. ...