Football practice report: RB derby continues
While USF's quarterback competition has drawn plenty of attention, the battle for running back is heating up as well.
Though questions remain, running backs coach Telly Lockette is confident the derby -- which includes sophomore Darius Tice, redshirt freshman Sta'fon McCray and four-star freshmen D'Ernest Johnson and Marlon Mack -- will bring forth an answer.
If no one stands out, Lockette said he's not afraid of going with a committee approach to start the season.
"We don't have a kid in our backfield that carried the ball more than 5 percent last year," said Lockette, though Tice had 35 of the Bulls' 359 carries (9.7 percent) in 2013.
"My whole room right now is young guys. ... They really haven't played. ... We'll just try to get some production out of those guys and go from there."
Tice, who ran for 141 yards in eight games last fall, acknowledged the competition is still a toss-up. With Michael Pierre (neck/spinal cord injury) being forced to give up the game in the offseason, Tice is the Bulls' lone tailback with collegiate experience.
"I feel like we'll emerge throughout the games and throughout the season," Tice said. "You're going to separate yourself based off the carries and how well you're doing blocking. I feel like I can emerge. I feel like a couple other guys can emerge as well."
ODDS AND ENDS: Senior TE Mike McFarland (left knee) dressed in full pads with a protective brace, but was limited in practice for the second consecutive day. ... QB Steven Bench took reps with starting C Austin Reiter in early drills, which were open to the media. ... Former Bulls WR Ruben Gonzalez's transfer to Jacksonville State, as reported by the Times earlier this month, apparently is official. Gonzalez is listed on the Gamecocks' roster.
AUDIBLE: "We came a long way from last year as far as blocking and picking up blitzes. This year, even the freshmen that just came in, everybody's picking it up. ... We are a whole lot farther from last year to where we are now." - McCray when asked if the running backs have progressed from a season ago.
AUDIBLE, PART II: "I feel good, I feel I can move with my weight and I've been really comfortable. ... I feel a little bigger, I feel I've got a little more cushion in me. But I feel good. Like I said, I'm mobile; I think that's the biggest thing." -- QB Mike White, who weighed in at 213 pounds Monday. White was listed at 186 as a freshman
Times staff writer Joey Knight contributed to this report.