Flowers shines in wet scrimmage
Two weeks into USF's spring camp, the 2016 version of the Bull Shark defense still possesses at least a handful of kinks.
QB Quinton Flowers isn't making the ironing-out process any easier, as evidenced by Saturday afternoon's waterlogged situational scrimmage.
The junior incumbent had Saturday's only three touchdown passes -- including two to senior Rodney Adams -- in the 45-minute session that featured no fewer than 20 possessions.
"I definitely think we have a lot of room to improve," MLB Auggie Sanchez said of his unit.
Held to a three-and-out on his first possession, Flowers followed with a 30-yard TD strike across the middle to Adams. He then led a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive capped by Darius Tice's 4-yard TD. After three possessions, Flowers was 5-for-6 for 91 yards.
"We played as if it was a game," Flowers said. "Guys out there blocking, Coach T making calls, refs making calls."
At that point, a steady rain arrived, lingering roughly 10 minutes. The Flowers deluge continued shortly thereafter.
He provided the scrimmage's highlight, exploiting a safety blitz by finding Adams on a simple post route for an 80-yard TD. Flowers then capped a 96-yard drive his next series by finding WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling on a simple curl route that the N.C. State transfer turned into a 27-yard TD.
"Coach (Raymond) Woodie (Bulls defensive coordinator) is pretty aggressive over there," Coach Willie Taggart said. "He was bringin' the house (on the blitz) and I told our guys eventually we've got to make 'em pay, that's the only way to get 'em out of it.
"And sure enough, our guys made 'em pay on that."
The defense found atonement in the red zone, holding the offense to only a 31-yard Emilio Nadelman field goal in a series of drives starting at the 25-yard line. The final one ended with Wisconsin transfer Austin Hudson intercepting Flowers in the end zone.
Taggart said red-zone defense is a priority this spring after last season's unit allowed opponents to score on 86.5 percent of its red-zone trips (32 of 37), which ranked 88th nationally.
But the unit's performance across the remaining 80 yards remains in need of polish.
"We gave up some big balls and it almost seemed like the offense could drive at ease," Sanchez said. "We stopped 'em that first series, and then they had their way with us for the rest of the time. I mean, we bowed up in the red zone, but we've got to get better throughout the course of the scrimmage and of a game."
ODDS AND ENDS: Taggart intentionally held out two-time 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack for all except a couple of plays. "I was gonna put him in a jersey so nobody touches him, but I didn't wanna do him like that," Taggart said. ... Despite Saturday's wetness, new first-team C Michael Galati appeared to have no bad snaps. Flowers estimated Galati has had only three or four faulty snaps through the first two weeks. ... Sophomore walk-on P Brent Gordon, the heir apparent to Mattias Ciabatti, had a couple of high, booming attempts. "He punted the ball really well," Taggart said. "Brent's gonna be a hell of a player for us." ... For now, Gordon also is the holder on kicks. ... Redshirt freshman Jaymon Thomas recovered an Adams fumble that appeared unforced. ... DE Josh Black, partially slowed by a foot injury so far in camp, logged a few scrimmage reps Saturday.
AUDIBLE: "We still have the same system but..the new coaches coming in, they've got to learn the system. So now they're like what we were as players last year, so they've got to learn it while we kind of know it. ... You've got to find that balance and everybody's got to put in the time and the effort." -- Sanchez