USF spring football: Yes, those are volleyballs
Not a huge amount of actual news from Day Two of Skip Holtz's first spring practices at USF, but there's still more new quirks and novelties that give a little insight into how the new football coach is running things.
Best sight Wednesday had to be during special-teams work on the punt block unit, which was much like any other drill, except that the Bulls were using volleyballs instead of footballs. We'll talk to Holtz after practice, but I'd think they do less damage to the punt-blockers -- there were eight volleyballs bouncing all over the practice fields as Justin Brockhaus-Kann went through his normal punting motion again and again as Holtz worked on punt-blocking technique. Given that Holtz's East Carolina team knocked off a ranked Virginia Tech team in 2008 with a blocked punt returned for a touchdown -- they used a football that day -- it's clear that special teams are an important (and creative) area for him. And the pic is from USF's football Twitter page -- thanks much for the visual aid.
Another new gimmick is a "High Release Net" -- had to Google that one -- designed to help quarterbacks work on their accuracy. It's the kind of thing you'd see at a carnival, or at the old "Quarterback Challenge" competitions the NFL used to hold -- a net with three pockets the passers try to throw the football into downfield. I saw B.J. Daniels hit all three from 15 yards on three consecutive throws. What's more impressive is the price tag -- the folks at Gilman Gear ask $750 for it.
Another new addition to practice is a pair of red arches -- I was guessing four feet tall, but it turns out they're 55 inches, designed to keep players with a "low pad level" -- coming off a snap or going into a block, for instance. Sure enough, I found it on the Gilman site, yours for $210 each. I felt like Jack Nicholson back in the first "Batman" movie: Where does he get these wonderful toys?
Still no David Bedford or Jamar Taylor, so we'll check on those two, and I found it amusing that as new coaches learn new players, all the Bulls have their names written on masking tape on the front of their helmets. Secondary coach Rick Smith is drilling himself during practice, pointing to players and calling out their class: Redshirt sophomore? Redshirt freshman? Lots more to come after practice. ...