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South Florida football news and notes

So who is the fastest?

This might be the fastest USF team ever, with a strong collection of players who have impressive resumes as sprinters. Former Hillsborough stars Lindsey Lamar and Terrence Mitchell are cousins who competed head-to-head throughout their high school careers — Lamar, left, ran a 10.35 in the 100 meters in the 2008 regional meet to beat Mitchell's 10.64, and Lamar edged him again at the state meet. Then there are the speedsters from Miami Monsignor Pace — receivers Sterling Griffin and Derrick Hopkins and cornerback Kayvon Webster were part of a state record 4x100-meter relay in winning a state championship in 2009. The best way to find out who is fastest might come on kickoffs this fall. Holtz is considering Webster and Mitchell as options to line up deep.

Bulls fans certainly hope Skip Holtz can bring more wins to USF football, but there's a good chance he'll also bring more close wins as well. USF hasn't had many close games in recent years, and Holtz's players don't have nearly as much experience in tight late-game situations as he does. In the past three seasons, the Bulls have just four wins that came by seven or fewer points, and none last season. Holtz, on the other hand, seems to thrive in close games — in the past three seasons, his East Carolina teams won 15 games by seven or fewer points.

Block party

Special teams was a strength of Skip Holtz at East Carolina. In particular, don't be surprised if USF has more blocked kicks this season. The Bulls had three last season, but Holtz's Pirates had six, after getting five in 2008.

How big can a blocked kick be?

In a November 2009 game against Southern Miss, the Golden Eagles scored a fourth-quarter touchdown and had an extra point to take the lead. ECU not only blocked the kick but also returned it for a two-point conversion, leading to a 25-20 win.

And one of Holtz's biggest wins at ECU, a 2008 upset of Virginia Tech, came when the Pirates returned a blocked punt for a touchdown with 1:52 left.

More than just Saturday

Weeknight games again are a critical part of USF's schedule, with three straight games in prime time on ESPN or ESPN2.

Thursdays have been a particular weakness for the Bulls, who are 0-5 on Thursdays since 2007, including their first loss in each of the past three seasons.

The Bulls have a Thursday game Oct. 14 at West Virginia, followed by a Friday game Oct. 22 at Cincinnati.

After a week off, the Bulls play host to Rutgers on Nov. 3, their first Wednesday game since a win at UAB in 2004.

Friday nights have gone well for USF, with home wins against West Virginia in 2009 and '07 and against Kansas in 2008.

Initial success

Three of USF's biggest offensive stars go by initials for the first names — do you know the real first names for quarterback B.J. Daniels and receivers A.J. Love and T.J. Knowles?

ANSWER: Bruce Daniels, Anthony Love, Taylor Knowles. In each case, "J" is for junior.

The record is safe

You won't see many USF career records broken this season, because few players have enough experience to pile up record numbers. One record that certainly won't fall is Jerome Murphy's 52 career games played, set last season. Matching Murphy, left, requires perfect attendance over four seasons with bowls in all four years, and none of USF's seniors are within reach. The closest are senior linebacker Sabbath Joseph and senior receiver Dontavia Bogan, who can finish with 50 games if they play in 13 (including a bowl) this fall.

South Florida football news and notes 08/29/10 [Last modified: Sunday, August 29, 2010 8:38pm]
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