Senior pair still suspended, status for Rutgers unclear
TAMPA -- Coach Willie Taggart said Monday senior defensive backs Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins remain indefinitely suspended, leaving their status for Saturday's season finale at
Rutgers in question.
Both missed the Bulls' 23-20 loss Friday at UCF due to an undisclosed violation of team rules, but the revamped, freshman-heavy secondary mostly shined in their absence.
Rookie Hassan Childs, thrust into Joyce's safety spot, had four tackles. Classmate Nate Godwin, the other regular safety, had a fourth-quarter interception on which USF's offense couldn't capitalize. Freshman CB Lamar Robbins had a second-quarter pick.
"It was great for those guys to step in there and not miss a beat," Taggart said. "We probably played by far our best defense of the season. It was good to see that out of our young guys. At one point, there were all freshmen in the secondary."
One player definitely out Saturday is backup junior MLB Hans Louis, whom Taggart said tore his ACL Friday night.
FRIGID FINALE: If penalties and turnovers weren't enough to concern the Bulls, they also somehow must place mind over the mercury. Saturday's projected low at Rutgers is 25 degrees, with a 50-percent rain chance.
Friday's kickoff at UCF -- 59 degrees -- was USF's coldest of the year. Taggart won't hear any of it.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," he said on the American Athletic Conference coaches teleconference Monday. "We're Floridian, we talk about heat down here, baby."
MR. VERSATILE: Rutgers coach Kyle Flood suggested Monday that Scarlet Knights senior Jeremy Deering -- a Leto High alumnus -- will have a solid shot at a pro career.
The reason: Deering's versatility. At various points, Deering has lined up at kick returner, receiver, tailback and safety for Rutgers. Currently sixth on the team in tackles (37), Deering has 993 total yards for his career, and 2,078 career all-purpose yards.
"He's big, he's strong, he's fast," Flood said. "But it's really his ability to be selfless that has created a tremendous career for him and I think is going to give him an opportunity at the next level."
ODDS AND ENDS: The Bulls now rank 21st nationally in total defense (350.4 ypg), but 121st in total offense (266.0 ypg). ... Rutgers freshman return specialist Janarion Grant, a former three-way Pasco High star who returned his first collegiate kick for a 100-yard TD, received his first college offer from USF. ... On Monday's teleconference, UCF coach George O'Leary said, "You can see that the game between us and USF is going to grow into a great game for the (conference)."
AUDIBLE: "Like I've been telling them all year, you're going to miss it. Try to enjoy the moment, enjoy the game, enjoy playing with your teammates, enjoy practicing this week with your teammates -- you're going to miss it all. Don't forget to have fun in your last game with this team. Just go out and have fun." -- Taggart, when asked what his message is to his seniors entering the season's last game