Depth-chart notes as Bulls leave Vero ...
I've been hesitant to go into too much detail on depth-chart changes and how the Bulls have been lining up in the first two weeks of camp, but with an open practice Saturday where fans can see everything, it's easier to offer a snapshot of where things stand. Again, by Monday's practice, much could change without any surprise.
-- I'll skip quarterback right now -- what you saw Saturday came with the caveat that Steven Bench was held out with an ankle injury, but you're still seeing Bobby Eveld and Matt Floyd getting most of the reps with the 1s and 2s, with one more week of competition before normal game-week prep for McNeese State, presumably with a starter selected, at least privately. Taggart continues to mention Mike White as making individual plays, but not consistently showing an understanding of the offense.
-- Running back, too, is hard to read -- Marcus Shaw and Mike Pierre still get the bulk of the reps with the top two units, though it's clear at least one of the two freshman tailbacks, Darius Tice and Sta'fon McCray, will play this fall. We asked a few veterans before Saturday's drills who had stood out to them among the newcomers, and two named Tice first. Expect at least one of the freshman fullbacks -- Kennard Swanson and Auggie Sanchez -- to play as well. The first catch of Saturday's live drills? Walk-on fullback Ryan Eppes.
-- Receiver: Harder to see a depth chart here because guys move around a lot -- the first two receivers on the field with the No. 1 offense were Andre Davis and Deonte Welch, which makes sense. Derrick Hopkins is the next most experienced, and then it's a free-for-all -- guys who sat out last season like Ruben Gonzalez, Stephen Bravo-Brown and Alex Mut. Walk-ons like Clinton Jones and Jordan Duval were getting on the field with the 2nd and 3rd offense. Chris Dunkley was out with an ankle injury.
-- Tight end: It's established that Sean Price and Mike McFarland are the key figures here, but USF showed off some depth Saturday -- walk-on Jake Carlton had perhaps the longest catch of the day, gaining about 25 yards on a catch across the middle from Matt Floyd. The two connected again later, and you saw Guito Ervilus make a catch, and freshman walk-on Spencer Adkinson caught a touchdown, albeit in the No. 3 offense vs. the No. 3 defense. Again, expect a lot of two-tight-end looks.
-- Offensive line: With Thor Jozwiak out with his heart issues, one of the guard spots is more up for grabs -- on Saturday, the first line was (l-r) Darrell Williams, Brynjar Gudmundsson, Austin Reiter, Lawrence Martin and Quinterrius Eatmon. I've seen the same tackles and center with the first line every time I've written it down, but the guards change here and there. The second line Saturday at the start of practice (l-r) was Jake Kaufman, Steven Jacques, Kofi Amichia, Max Lang and Mak Djulbegovic; at one point during the live period I saw freshman Dominique Threatt working in Lang's place.
-- Defensive line: Julius Forte is out for a bit after minor knee surgery, so you saw Aaron Lynch and Tevin Mims working on the No. 1 defense Saturday. Luke Sager was also out with a hip injury, so you had James Hamilton up with Elkino Watson on the first line. The second line I saw had Ryne Giddins and Eric Lee at end and Todd Chandler and Anthony Hill at tackle. Those lineups were fairly consistent today -- you still have Daniel Perry at end and upside tackles like Derrick Calloway and Deadrin Senat that could work their way into the rotation.
-- Linebacker: The three guys on the first defense were DeDe Lattimore in the middle, Reshard Cliett at weakside and Tashon Whitehurst at strongside -- Whitehurst is the one whose job is still up for grabs, with Zack Bullock pushing him. The second defense had Hans Louis in the middle, Rahmon Swain at weakside and Bullock at strongside; that leaves guys like C.J. Garye and Antoine Pozniak on the third unit. When the Bulls go to two linebackers in nickel, it looks like that should be Lattimore and Cliett most of the time.
-- Secondary: The starting corners have been fairly consistent -- Kenneth Durden and Brandon Salinas, as you saw Saturday. Seniors Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins worked with the No. 1 defense as well. With Jalen Spencer out with a shoulder injury, the No. 2 secondary had freshman Lamar Robbins and senior Fidel Montgomery working at corner, and freshman Nate Godwin and junior Torrel Saffold working at safety. The third secondary was freshman Hassan Childs and walk-on Mark Oliver at corner, walk-ons Tre Griffin and Tyler Robb at safety. Chris Bivins and Johnny Ward were behind them, but that could be due to injury limitations.
-- Special teams: Mattias Ciabatti looks to be in good shape for the punting job, with Marvin Kloss battling with freshman Emilio Nadelman for the kicking job. Returns? When USF lined up with all 11 for kickoff returns, you saw Derrick Hopkins and Mike Pierre initially deep, with Fidel Montgomery and Sta'fon McCray deep on the second run through a full return. Still seeing a half-dozen or so guys rotating through for punt returns -- Saturday it included Marcus Shaw, Andre Davis, Hopkins, Kenneth Durden, Lamar Robbins and Hassan Childs.