Sunday, December 17, 2017
Colleges

USF Bulls hope to stoke offense this spring

TAMPA — The team that managed a Division I-worst 11 offensive touchdowns in the fall scored No. 12 in brisk fashion Wednesday morning.

Engineering a two-minute drill that began around midfield, rising sophomore QB Mike White completed 5 of 6 passes, capped by a 2-yard touchdown to Andre Davis on a back-shoulder fade route. With that, USF served notice it intends to heighten its pace and production in 2014.

"That was impressive," said coach Willie Taggart, who launched the start of spring drills in thick fog Wednesday morning. "Last year, I don't think we ever scored a touchdown in the two-minute drill. But again, we look comfortable."

In the wake of a 2-10 season in which it ranked 121st of 123 Division I teams in total offense (255.5 ypg), Taggart said a faster pace is a priority this spring. Power running and play-action passing, however, remain the primary objectives.

"Everybody's doing everything much faster, on the offense most definitely more uptempo," said Davis, who set USF's single-season receiving yardage record (735) in the fall. "Everybody seems like they know what to do now, instead of just guessing."

BULLS BULKIER: Don't be shocked if the Bulls' spring MVP turns out to be strength and conditioning coach Hans Straub. The average weight of the team's five starting offensive linemen, manhandled most of last season, increased from 297 to 310 pounds over the winter.

Other big gainers: QB Steven Bench (from 208 to 220), TE Mike McFarland (244 to 260) and LB Nigel Harris (190 to 215). Even White, listed at 200, gained "exactly 12.3 pounds."

"Out of 79 guys we had go through workouts and winter conditioning, we had 66 guys make every last one of 'em," Taggart said. "Huge, big time. It says a lot about our football team and what they want to do."

FLOYD GONE: Taggart confirmed that fourth-year junior QB Matt Floyd, the opening-game starter last season who never played again after that 53-21 loss to McNeese State, intends to transfer. If he graduates this spring as expected, Floyd would have two years' eligibility remaining.

"I've said from Day 1, we're going to be highly competitive around here," Taggart said. "Everybody's going to compete. I'm not going to give anyone anything."

DURDEN SUSPENDED: Junior DB Kenneth Durden, arrested in January on a marijuana possession charge, is on the spring roster but is indefinitely suspended.

"He's got things he's got to take care of, much bigger than football," Taggart said. "Those are his issues, and if he works those things out, he can come back and talk to us then."

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