Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Revamped offensive line gives USF Bulls something to build around

TAMPA — In eight games this season, the USF football team already has used five different starting offensive lines, including five Bulls who have made their first career start.

And yet as the Bulls try to end the longest losing streak in their history, the offensive line has become one of the team's strengths. Even with its two most-experienced linemen watching from the sideline, USF piled up 369 rushing yards, 8 shy of the school record, in Saturday's loss to Syracuse.

The line likely to start Saturday against Connecticut will feature three sophomores and two redshirt freshmen, a starting five that will return intact in 2013, a potential strength on a squad that will be young and inexperienced at many positions. First, there are more pressing matters, like getting the Bulls the win that has eluded them since Sept. 8.

"As an offensive lineman, we're not the glitz and glamour guys. We don't get all the stats and whatnot," said redshirt freshman Thor Jozwiak, who made his first start Saturday, stepping in for injured senior Mark Popek at left guard. "But knowing that your running backs and your quarterback had … 369 rushing yards, that's a pat on our backs. (It) makes a pretty good statement that we played pretty good as a unit."

The Bulls might have a second new starting guard this week because senior Danous Estenor is doubtful with a sprained ankle. His likely successor is another redshirt freshman, Brynjar Gudmundsson, who filled in for Popek for about 70 plays in a loss at Louisville. Add sophomore tackles Darrell Williams and Quinterrius Eatmon, and sophomore center Austin Reiter, and it's a foundation to build around.

"A lot of new young guys, but they've really stepped up," quarterback B.J. Daniels said of the line that has allowed only 11 sacks in eight games. "Even back during summer, I remember Danous Estenor helping out the young guys, showing them the ropes. They're having an opportunity to play, and it's showing some very promising things for us."

That offensive line will have its hands full against a UConn team that leads the Big East in total defense, ranks first in pass defense, second in rush defense, second in sacks and first on third downs. Defensive end Trevardo Williams leads the league with 7½ sacks, and linebacker Yawin Smallwood leads the league with 13 tackles for loss, with linebacker Sio Moore tied for third.

USF's breakout rushing game Saturday came against a Syracuse defense that had allowed just 35 yards per game in three previous conference games; the Bulls finished with 10 times that, improving their rushing total for the third game in a row.

"I'm very confident in all of our guys. … We all bonded together at camp," Jozwiak said. "I feel like no matter who's in there, we're going to cope with injury, which is what we're doing. Whoever is playing next to me, they're my brother and we're going to play as a unit. … It builds a bond. That chemistry we're building is only going to make us better with the years to come."

Greg Auman can be reached at and at (813) 226-3346. Check out his blog at and follow him on Twitter at @gregauman.

Revamped offensive line gives USF Bulls something to build around 10/31/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, October 31, 2012 10:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rowdies settle for draw at home


    ST. PETERSBURG — The good news for the Rowdies is that they still haven't lost a game at Al Lang Stadium since late April. The bad news is they had to settle for a 1-1 tie against Ottawa on Saturday night in front of 6,710 sweaty fans.

  2. Bats come to life, but Rays' freefall continues (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG —The six runs seemed like a ton, just the second time the Rays had scored that many in a game during their numbing two-plus-weeks stretch of offensive impotency, and amazingly, the first time at the Trop in nearly two months.

    Lucas Duda connects for a two-run home run in the sixth, getting the Rays within 7-5. A Logan Morrison home run in the ninth made it 7-6, but Tampa Bay couldn’t complete the comeback.
  3. Rays journal: Cesar Puello, who has one major-league game, claimed off waivers

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Looking to add punch to their right-handed lineup, the Rays claimed OF Cesar Puello off waivers Saturday from the Angels.

  4. Marc Topkin's takeaways from Saturday's Rays-Mariners game

    The Heater

    SS Adeiny Hechavarria doesn't always look like he's going hard, but he showed impressive reactions Saturday in reversing field to catch a ball that clanked off the catwalk then firing to second to double up Guillermo Heredia on an attempt to tag up.

  5. Bucs journal: Simeon Rice gives master class on sacks to defensive ends


    TAMPA — As the Bucs seek their first 10-sack season from a player since Simeon Rice in 2005, who better to help that cause than Rice himself?

    Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers great Simeon Rice works with defensive end Noah Spence (57) after practice at One Buccaneer Place in Tampa, Fla., on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017.