Notes: Wells talks about signees, offense
Back on signing day, we had the chance to talk to USF's new assistants, and I've held off on posting notes to help bridge the gap between signing day and the start of spring football on March 20. We'll start today with USF offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Walt Wells ...
Wells oversees the offensive line, but with Larry Scott handling tackles and tight ends, he'll work more closely with the guards and centers, and all three of USF's offensive line signees for 2013 -- East Point (Ga.) Tri-Cities teammates Dominique Threatt and Jeremi Hall, plus Jesuit's Cameron Ruff -- will get their first looks as interior linemen.
"They're two different players," Wells said of the Georgia teammates. "Dominique Threatt is a blue-collar, all-the-way guy. He's about 6-2, 300. He's very strong already. He's physical, and he is a very serious young man. That's what I like about him. You're going to line him up and physically he's going to be able to get some things done.
"Now Jeremi has all the physical tools, has to continue to progress in the weight room, but is athletically, in stature, more of what you're looking for, being 6-4, 6-5, 330 pounds. He can play center and guard. Athletically, I think he brings a little more to the table than Dominique, but in overall football ability at this present time, I think Dominique's film shows he's ready to go. Dominique will be a guard, too. ... I think Jeremi could play outside, athletically. He just has to get some weight issues under control."
RUNNING GAME: Willie Taggart's offenses have had strong primary running backs, going back to Toby Gerhart at Stanford, then Bobby Rainey and Antonio Andrews at Western Kentucky. Wells is excited about the two running backs USF signed in Sta'fon McCray (5-11, 205) and Darius Tice (6-0, 205).
"Those two kids are big, powerful backs," Wells said. "They're downhill guys. Both have breakaway speed for their size. They're not 4.3s, but they're really fast young men that have size and can probably take the workhorse load you have to have in this offense and be able to physically hold up for 12-13 games and not get the little dings that keep you out. I like the fact that they're physical. They'll have to understand pass protections a little more complex than what they're used to seeing. They both can catch the ball well, too."
OFFENSIVE ROLES: Taggart will have a major role in calling plays, as he did at WKU, but Wells has an offensive coordinator title that no assistant had on Taggart's staff in 2012. He said USF's offense will be run collectively by a handful of coaches, in practice and on gamedays.
"We all work together. It's Coach Taggart's offense. He brought it from Stanford," Wells said. "We worked together as assistants prior, and he left and came back and we worked together. (QB coach) Nick (Sheridan) is in charge of the pass game, I'll be in charge of the run game. Obviously Willie's going to be involved, watching and in meetings. With his duties here at USF, media duties he has and off-the-field duties and the whole team concept, he just wanted to have somebody to help organize things for him. (WRs coach) David Reaves brings a lot to the table, and so will Larry Scott, who's a tremendous coach. Our GAs, Chris Chestnut and Jon Bills, do a good job. We're excited. We know one thing: For offense to go, we all have to be in this thing together. There's really no one guy that ever just does it, the way we do things."
UPGRADING: Wells said Taggart's staff had to evaluate the players they had recruited -- and in some cases, taken commitments from -- at Western Kentucky, knowing they needed a higher level of talent to compete at USF's level.
"A lot of our recruits at Western wanted to come along with us. You know where you're at at Western Kentucky, and that's no disrespect whatsoever. It's a great place," Wells said. "We had to make sure we were getting players that could beat Miami, Rutgers, Louisville, people on our schedule, not just the average Joes. Coach Taggart has one strong belief: We bow down to no man or no program. We're going to do that in recruiting. We know it's an uphill battle sometimes. If you don't ever swing, you're never going to find out."
CONTENDERS: Wells said when WKU played Alabama last year, Taggart had boxing legend Evander Holyfield talk to his team before the game. He spoke about the first time he beat Mike Tyson, when few people thought he could win. The message didn't help that day on the scoreboard -- WKU lost 35-0 to the eventual national champions -- but the impact stuck with Wells. "For me personally, (it meant) to never give up, to never not reach out for something people think might not be attainable," he said.