Spring questions leave openings for USF freshmen
Lots of observations to share from Saturday's final scrimmage and USF's spring drills as a whole, but USF coach Skip Holtz said afterwards that the Bulls have enough areas where depth is a concern that there will be many opportunities for true freshmen to play this fall.
That starts at cornerback, where Valdosta's Kenneth Durden will have a chance to crack the two-deep if he can pick up the defense quickly -- the Bulls have three established corners in starters Quenton Washington and Kayvon Webster and backup George Baker, but after that, the only experienced options (Ricardo Dixon and Tyson Butler) have injury concerns. Walk-on Ernie Tabuteau continues to turn heads with strong play as well.
The fact that Saturday's scrimmage wasn't split into two formal teams speaks to the lack of confidence USF's coaches have in their backup offensive linemen. The starting five seems like a solid group, but it's hard to say what backups are game-ready, other than perhaps guard Danous Estenor. That means a tackle like Orlando's Max Lang will have a good chance to challenge Damien Edwards and whoever else would be a second-string tackle. I'd think he would be in the same position Quinterrious Eatmon was in last fall -- they'd like to redshirt him if possible, but if either tackle were injured or ineffective, he might be the next in line. None of the interior line backups have significant playing experience beyond Estenor, so there's a chance for someone to step in there as well.
Skip Holtz's dissatisfaction with the receiver group as a whole leaves the door open for a playmaker like Tampa's Andre Davis to step in -- I thought Terrence Mitchell and Deonte Welch, both finishing their first year on campus, looked good in both scrimmages, but Holtz clearly isn't happy with the drops and inconsistency at the position. Holtz also mentioned a window at defensive tackle, where there isn't much experienced depth, so Miami's Elkino Watson is a strong candidate to challenge Luke Sager and others to make the rotation.
Holtz also mentioned linebacker and running back, though I don't see the same depth issues at those positions. Linebacker is arguably the Bulls' deepest position, with strong backups like Reshard Cliett, Mike Jeune and Curtis Weatherspoon, all talented and still in their first year on campus. Many of the linebackers coming in would benefit from a year in a college training regimen to put on weight, much the same way Cliett has. Running back has shown some separation this spring, with Demetris Murray and Darrell Scott setting themselves apart, but Dontae Aycock has looked good catching passes out of the backfield, and the Bulls will get Marcus Shaw and Bradley Battles back from injuries this summer.