Watson leading NCAA in TFLs by true freshmen
TAMPA -- Obscured in USF's 44-17 loss to Pittsburgh on Thursday night was another breakout performance by true freshman defensive tackle Elkino Watson, who had another eight tackles, two for losses, including his first career sack.
Watson now leads the Bulls with 6.5 tackles for loss this season, a mark that also is the highest in the nation for a true freshman at any position. He also has 26 total tackles, a high number for an interior lineman and fourth on USF's defense behind the three starting linebackers.
"I just go out and work hard, don't take any days for granted and keep working on what the coaches tell me to fix," Watson, a 6-foot-2, 288-pound Miami native, said last month. "I get a lot of reps with the 1s, a lot with the 2s and sometimes I go with the 3s to stay in game shape. I keep going and going, so when game time comes, it's a lot easier than it is in practice."
Entering the season, USF was hoping to be able to replace the production of senior Terrell McClain, a third-round draft pick of the Panthers. At least statistically, Watson has done that, amassing more tackles (26) and TFLs (6.5) in his first five games than McClain (24, 4.5) did in all of last season.
Watson was a signing-day steal for the Bulls, choosing USF over hometown Miami, and he's lived up to the high expectations placed on him by the recruiting services. Bulls coach Skip Holtz listed him Monday among the team's bright spots in Thursday's loss, and one of the few on defense.
" I was really pleased with Elkino Watson ... as a true freshman, he has a chance to really be a special player on the defensive line," Holtz said.
THIS AND THAT: If Holtz wants to make a change on defense, he might consider senior defensive end Patrick Hampton, who has zero tackles for loss despite starting all five games this season. His backups have had better success in opposing backfields, with sophomore Julius Forte having four TFLs, senior Claude Davis having three and junior Anthony Hill, a converted tackle, getting two. ... Talk about an extended streak: USF women's soccer has had its last seven matches go into overtime. The Bulls (5-4-4) have two wins and three ties out of those seven, with two key home dates this weekend, hosting Connecticut on Friday and Providence on Sunday in what is already the final home matches of the regular season. ... USF men's soccer (5-2-2) leads the Big East in goals per game, with individual scoring leaders as well in junior Dom Dwyer, originally from London, who has seven goals in nine games, and freshman Wesley Charpie of Tarpon Springs, who has four assists entering Tuesday's game at Florida Gulf Coast. ... With the Bulls playing Thursday and having a bye week ahead, the Bucs worked out on USF's practice fields on Friday night in preparation for Monday's win against the Colts.