Spring football report: Offensive reawakening
The momentum it built the first two weeks of spring drills appeared to dissipate during spring break. In the first three practices since returning from its layoff, the Bulls offense had regressed from sleek to circa 2013.
"I think personally what happened to us is, we got a little comfortable, we got complacent and we were too used to winning," QB Mike White said.
But on a bright, mildly breezy Saturday afternoon, White and Co. got out of their funk and got into the end zone. Often.
Playing before an audience of several dozen including former Louisville QB Teddy Bridgewater, the first team scored on its first three possessions against the starting defense in a mini-scrimmage at the Morsani Practice Complex.
During that stretch, White went 5-for-6 for 159 yards and a touchdown, while TB Michael Pierre ran six times for 30 yards and had a 79-yard TD catch before later exiting with a neck stinger.
"Our defense had come back after spring break and really put it to our offense...and today it was the total opposite," said Coach Willie Taggart, who appeared to alternate his first- and second-team units after each possession.
"It was good to see because we challenged our offense to see if we could respond and they did."
Among the highlights: WR Chris Dunkley's end-around for a 14-yard TD, and Pierre's dash across the field to the end zone after catching a short screen pass from White on third-and-25.
"Today I was disappointed," defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said.
"Not that it was a bad practice, but when you have 'em at third-and-(25)...and you give up a 70-yard screen, a 60-yard screen or whatever it was for a touchdown. ... Those are the things that bother me that we don't understand the game."
DEFENSE SHOWS 3-4: To maximize his depth in the back and compensate for inexperience up front, Bresnahan showed some 3-4 alignments during the scrimmage and indicated it could be used extensively in the fall.
"It's not 'Chuck Bresnahan is a 4-3 scheme,'" said the veteran coordinator, who primarily went with four down linemen last fall.
"I want to put our players in position to make plays, and so we don't have the big studs up front like we did last year...so we have to do some things to compensate for that
"And we've got some (3-4) principles in and we're going to use them to our advantage and let the athletes run around a little bit, because we are a little bit smaller but more athletic."
WILSON EMERGES: If the season began tomorrow, redshirt freshman Evan Wilson, who played at Sarasota's Out-of-Door Academy, apparently would be the third-string quarterback.
Wilson found former Tampa Catholic standout Zach Benjamin on a nifty seam route for a TD during the seven-on-seven portion of Saturday's scrimmage.
"There's something about Evan Wilson that just says, 'This kid is gonna help us somehow, somewhere,'" Taggart said.
"Not only just at quarterback. ... We'll throw him at receiver and all he does is catch footballs, all he does is make plays. He can run, he can jump, he's a good athlete, and he's poised."
ODDS AND ENDS: Bridgewater, projected as a first-round NFL draft pick, was in Tampa visiting family, USF indicated. ... Sophomore QB Tommy Eveld, who had been vying for a third-team spot, is out the remainder of the spring with a knee injury, the school confirmed. ... FS Nate Godwin missed the scrimmage with a sprained ankle, and was sporting a boot on his right foot. ... Redshirt freshman FB Kennard Swanson had a 10-yard TD run on the first-team offense's second possession.
AUDIBLE: "They only get to come to (Raymond James Stadium) in the fall, and no one ever comes on campus, and it will be a great time of the year to do that. We're talking about filling up RayJay, we've got to start here. Get everybody excited about football and then show them the environment we need once we got to RayJay to make RayJay a snakepit." -- Taggart on holding next weekend's spring game on campus at the men's and women's soccer stadium