USF football depth chart: Ten quick thoughts ...
The I'll-show-you-mine gamesmanship between USF and Notre Dame finally ended with the release of both depth charts on Monday, and the Bulls' offering doesn't have too many big surprises, with many spots that could change between now and the Big East opener at Pittsburgh on Sept. 29.
So here are 10 quick observations, remembering this is just a snapshot depth chart and the 3s could be very close to the 2s in many spots. ...
-- Lindsey Lamar, Terrence Mitchell, Andre Davis and Ruben Gonzalez. Four big-time playmakers, and none of them is among the six receivers on USF's depth chart. It shows the depth at the position, first of all, and the progress by inexperienced receivers like Victor Marc, Deonte Welch and Stephen Bravo-Brown. But how Todd Fitch is able to use those first four creatively will be intriguing -- there may be no position where snaps are more up for grabs than at receiver during those three lightweight home games in September.
-- You should definitely notice the lack of a fullback on the depth chart. Most of the tight ends are pass-catching types, and if Tye Turner isn't a lock to play, that leaves walk-on Chris Breit, who was a linebacker last fall. I don't see you'll see a lot of fullback this fall, save goal-line and third-and-short jumbo packages. As much as Richard Kelly was a constant in the backfield, I think when USF uses two backs, one will be that H-back type (Joel Miller, Marc, Lamar) that is just as likely to flare out into the slot pre-snap.
-- Add up the career starts of the 22 projected starters, and USF has 242 career starts, while Notre Dame has 321. The offenses are comparable -- USF has 125 career starts, Notre Dame 130. But on defense, USF has 117, while Notre Dame has 191 -- that's 63 percent more starting experience. That means the young guys in USF's front seven have to not play like newcomers. Reshard Cliett is a redshirt freshman, Ryne Giddins has two starts, Patrick Hampton three, Keith McCaskill five. The good news? All four starting defensive backs have as many starts as those four combined, but USF needs pressure on Dayne Crist because Notre Dame is overloaded with talent at receiver and tight end.
-- Look out for the redshirt freshmen, who are poised to make an impact all over the field. Quinterrius Eatmon and Cliett are listed as starters, Welch is in the top six at receiver, walk-on Marvin Kloss is handling kickoffs, and Tony Kibler and Austin Reiter secured spots on the second-team line, allowing more true freshmen to redshirt. Don't forget other members of the Class of 2010 who played last fall, like safety Mark Joyce, Bravo-Brown and linebacker Curtis Weatherspoon. Those are all players who came in under Skip Holtz.
-- The overall lack of experience on the defensive line is glaring. Three first-year starters, and then there's the backups -- Julius Forte has 10 career tackles, and that's three more than Anthony Hill, Luke Sager and Elkino Watson combine for. Watson should have a chance to play a big role if he's the third defensive tackle. The inexperience on the line, combined with the great depth at linebacker, makes a good case for more dabbling in occasional 3-4 looks.
-- On defense, I wonder if the veteran secondary can cover for the inexperienced front seven until they get their bearings. The four starting defensive backs have 66 career starts; the seven projected starters at d-line and linebacker combine for just 51. What's promising about the front seven is that the only seniors starting are Keith McCaskill and Patrick Hampton, so the defense should have a ton of experience in 2012, even after losing Quenton Washington and Jerrell Young.
-- Unrelated to depth chart, but seeing that Notre Dame Stadium holds 80,795 fans, this should be one of the top five crowds ever to see a USF football game. Larger? Penn State (2005), Florida (2010), Florida State (2009) and Auburn (2007) are the only other 80,000-plus attendances. Random stat for you: In the last four seasons, USF is 4-1 when playing before announced crowds of 65,000 or more.
-- With Stephen Bravo-Brown now on scholarship, USF has five former walk-ons now on scholarship and on the depth chart -- Bravo-Brown, quarterback Bobby Eveld, center Chaz Hine, long-snapper Mike Walsh and receiver Joel Miller. That's an impressive amount of production from kids who didn't have their names called on national signing day. Other walk-ons on the two-deep: cornerback Ernie Tabuteau and kickoff specialist Marvin Kloss.
-- Getting way ahead of myself, but of the second-team linemen, who's most likely to start in 2012? I think it's redshirt freshman center Austin Reiter, who has a senior ahead of him in Chaz Hine and another senior in Kevin McCaskill as the closest competition for snapping duties. We wrote this summer about how high offensive line coach Steve Shankweiler was about Reiter, and with Thor Jozwiak facing potential shoulder surgery, his top competition from the incoming freshman class is also at a disadvantage. In listening to Reiter in interviews for the first time this week, he sounds like a smart kid, mature for his age.
-- USF will announce its 2011 captains on Tuesday, and I'll be curious to see if any juniors get the nod as voted by their teammates. There is no shortage of quality senior leaders -- Jeremiah Warren and Quenton Washington represented the Bulls in Newport, and there's Chaz Hine and A.J. Love on offense, as well as Jerrell Young on defense. But you could make a case for a respected junior like Sam Barrington or Mike Lanaris on defense, or a B.J. Daniels or Demetris Murray on offense.