Transfer Lynch thinking of team more at USF
TAMPA -- Speaking publicly for the first time since he left Notre Dame last year, USF defensive end Aaron Lynch said Wednesday that he's striving to be more of a "team player" with the Bulls this fall.
"I was a team player there, but at the same time, I was really all about me in a way," he said before Wednesday's practice as the Bulls prepare to play Saturday at Michigan State. "When it came to football, I wanted to make plays. Now, sitting out a year, being around the players, I've become more of a team player, and it's made me want to do more for my teammates and not just for myself."
Lynch, a Freshman All-America for the Fighting Irish in 2011, had three tackles in his USF debut Saturday, but the defensive line had zero sacks and the defense as a whole struggled in a humbling 53-21 loss to I-AA McNeese State. Coach Willie Taggart said many players, including Lynch, created problems by not staying within their role and trying to make plays outside USF's defensive scheme.
"The key to this defense, really, is to work hard, trust each other and do our role," Lynch said Wednesday. "That was big part of our loss Saturday. I was supposed to do something and I didn't. I wasn't in the gap where I was supposed to be. That's really the only thing on this defense holding us back: We need to be in our gaps when we need to be."
Lynch said the year away from football brought him closer to his teammates, and his biggest difference as a player may be the stronger connection he now feels in the locker room.
"It was good to finally play with my team -- I've been waiting a whole year to play with these guys," Lynch said. "All of us together, this is my family. Me and the defense, we have a bond that I couldn't share with a lot of other people."
Lynch had a strong game against Michigan State while at Notre Dame in 2011, totaling five tackles, one sack, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries. He said the chance to play again before a large crowd won't change his motivation to help the defense get back to a high level of play.
"I just like to play football," he said. "I could play in a high school stadium and we could be playing USC and it'd be the same thing."
THIS AND THAT: Defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said true freshman Johnny Ward -- who had an interception in Saturday's loss -- is in position to step in as USF's nickel defensive back after redshirt freshman Jalen Spencer was sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury. ... Bresnahan, speaking for the first time since Saturday's loss, echoed Taggart's postgame apology to fans. "The first thing is, I know everybody, we all feel embarrassed for our fans, for the university, the way we came out and performed in the first game," he said. "There's an old rule in coaching: It's probably never as bad as it seems, and it's never as good as it seems. That's semi-true. Toward what happened in the game, we can get it corrected."