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USF spring game: Extended notebook



TAMPA -- When the bay area downpour subsided and the clouds above Corbett Stadium finally dispersed Saturday, every sunbeam seemed to gravitate toward Bulls junior QB Steven Bench.

Working with three first-team receivers, the 6-foot-2 Penn State transfer enjoyed arguably his most shining moment as a Bull (19-for-24, 317 yards, three TDs) in the White team's 35-3 rout of the Green in USF's spring-ending intrasquad game.

"The White team was really crisp," Coach Willie Taggart said. "Steven did a good job of getting the ball to the receivers and getting it to them on time."

Entrenched as the backup to Mike White at the end of '13, Bench directed four scoring drives of at least 60 yards, including a 69-second, 60-yard march at the end of the first half that ended with a 5-yard TD to Chris Dunkley.

"I'd be dumb not to give (the offensive line) all the credit," said Bench, who threw TDs to three different receivers. "Those guys kept me safe back there and did a great job all day long from start to finish. I couldn't be more proud of those guys."

Afterward Taggart, who insisted at the outset of spring drills that no starting job is safe, said White (20-for-34, 174 yards) and Bench have been going "back and forth" all spring.

Neither threw an interception Saturday, though White, who appeared to get most of the first-team work this spring, was sacked twice.

"About as good as I've seen Steven Bench since he's been here," said WR Andre Davis, who led all receivers with six catches for 124 yards and a TD. "He's on Mike White's tail at practice day-in and day-out. He wants to be there just like Mike White's there."

TWEAKED 'D': The defense's evolution from four down linemen toward a 3-4 look, at least some of the time, continued Saturday. Redshirt freshman ILB Auggie Sanchez, who had seven tackles
to lead the White, said his team remained in the 3-4 most of the game.

Coordinator Chuck Bresnahan is trying to compensate for some key losses up front, including the top four defensive ends on USF's '13 depth chart. "We've got a ton of linebackers and we've got a ton of linebackers coming in," Sanchez said. "It worked to the best of our abilities."

FAMILIAR FACES: Former QB Matt Grothe headlined an alumni flag football game at halftime,
throwing for eight TDs including a 40-yarder to former teammate Louis Gachette.

"I'm tired, that's for sure," Grothe said.

The alumni on hand who are currently in the NFL, including B.J. Daniels (Seahawks) and Sam
Barrington (Packers), opted not to play because of the injury risk with wet field conditions.

LOCAL SIGHTINGS: Aside from Davis and Sanchez, other former bay area prep stars who stood out Saturday included DB Tyler Robb (Tampa Catholic), who led the Green with five tackles; DT Kieran Pettus (East Bay), who had one of the White's three sacks; TE Mike McFarland (Blake), who had four catches for 50 yards for the White; and WR Rodney Adams (Lakewood), who had five catches for 46 yards for the Green.

ODDS AND ENDS: USF estimated the attendance at 2,000, which included a few hundred convening along the berms of Corbett Stadium -- USF's soccer stadium -- as the weather cleared. ... As Saturday's victor, the White team won a steak dinner, to be served by the Green players later
this week. ... Only months after finishing 122nd of 123 Division I teams in penalties per
game (8.5), USF was whistled for only eight total penalties in Saturday's contest, which featured
two regularly timed quarters and a running clock in the second half. Only two of those were pre-snap penalties. ... PK Marvin Kloss, a 2013 Lou Groza Award finalist, converted the game's only field goal try, a 27-yarder.

AUDIBLE: "I tell you what, when we bring both teams together in the fall, oh yeah. It's gonna be nice." -- OG Thor Jozwiak (White)

Times correspondent Jeff Odom contributed to this report.

[Last modified: Saturday, March 29, 2014 10:27pm]


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