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USF Bulls prepares defense for up-tempo offenses

VERO BEACH — After waiting nearly two hours through a lightning delay, USF pushed through its first preseason scrimmage with an up-tempo offense geared to prepare its defense for key tests in the fall.

"We've talked about the tempo Pittsburgh's going to bring and West Virginia's going to bring," coach Skip Holtz said. "We're going to be ready for it. Notre Dame ran it quite a bit at the end of last year. Everything we can do to condition our players to that fast tempo; once somebody gets you on your heels, it's very difficult to recover on game day.

"That's why I want to get to the point it doesn't matter who gives it to us. Our players are not going to bat an eye. They're not going to blink. They're going to say, 'We did that in camp. This isn't any big deal.' "

Backup QBs: With starting QB B.J. Daniels held out after tweaking his left hamstring last week, sophomore Bobby Eveld and freshman Matt Floyd took most of the snaps.

Eveld, who played at Jesuit High, went 12-for-20 for 150 yards, Floyd 18-for-25 for 161 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman Deonte Welch.

"They did a really nice job, protected the ball for the most part," Holtz said. "They're both still young and need to continue to keep coming. I think Bobby's a little bit ahead of Matt right now just because he's got a whole other year in the program. Matt, for a true freshman to do what he's doing is impressive."

Other backups: Holtz focused on his backups, trying to solidify a two-deep depth chart that will get most of the reps during the three weeks before the opener at Notre Dame on Sept. 3.

"This is like that first (NFL) preseason game, where you have to make some decisions on your depth chart," Holtz said. "The 1s only got about 12 plays, and the 2s and 3s got about 45 or 50."

Defensive star: Freshman DL Elkino Watson dominated against fellow reserves with five tackles for loss, including two sacks of Floyd in a span of three plays.

"He's had a great camp," Holtz said. "I'll have to watch the film. Is it more people missing blocks and opening? Or is he making plays?

"From what I saw, he's making plays. He's a talent."

Injuries: Starting LT Mark Popek complained of headaches after the opening series and did not return, Holtz said. … Walk-on CB Ernie Tabuteau was limited by back spasms.

Locals: Former Lakewood High standout Corey Henderson, a walk-on cornerback on Florida's 2008 national title team, graduated from there last week and hopes to walk-on at USF as a graduate transfer in the fall. … Former Armwood High cornerback Mywan Jackson, who is transferring after two seasons at North Carolina, said USF is among the schools he's considering. USF has two scholarships available.

THIS AND THAT: Holtz, talking about injured DT Demi Thompson after the scrimmage, mistakenly called him "Demi Moore." … Senior DE Claude Davis sacked Eveld on consecutive plays. … Sophomore walk-on WR Stephen Bravo-Brown caught passes of 35 and 23 yards from Floyd.

USF Bulls prepares defense for up-tempo offenses 08/13/11 [Last modified: Saturday, August 13, 2011 10:39pm]

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