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USF spring football preview

REINVENT THE BULLS DEFENSE
New defensive coordinator Joe Tresey, who held the same post at Cincinnati the past two seasons, has been on the job less than a week, and USF still hasn't named a linebackers coach. But the 15 practices this spring are hugely important as the Bulls transition to Tresey, who must find two new starting outside linebackers and two new starters in the secondary. The defensive line, anchored by All-American DE George Selvie, left, should be a strength. T Anthony Hill, who enrolled in January, will get his first look this spring.
FIND A NEW offensive LINE
With four senior starters gone from the offensive line, the first priority is to find a new starting five, a rough draft with the potential to be upgraded in two-a-days in August. G Zach Hermann is a two-year starter, and fellow junior Jake Sims can play anywhere on the line. There's very limited experience beyond those two — watch for Ts Danous Estenor (limited with a knee injury) and Mark Popek, both still in their first year on campus, as well as Sampson Genus, who played defensive tackle last fall. August will bring junior college transfers Carlos Savala and Jamar Bass, who both could start, and also potentially former Florida State T Daron Rose.
NEW LOOK ON OFFENSE, TOO
Receivers coach Mike Canales was promoted to offensive coordinator, replacing Greg Gregory, and Canales is expected to throw downfield more, using USF's speed at receiver. The biggest returning names are senior Jessie Hester and juniors Carlton Mitchell and Dontavia Bogan. A crowded backfield gets another talented runner with the first look at freshman Demetris Murray, who redshirted last fall and will compete with top returners Mike Ford and Mo Plancher. Jamar Taylor will miss the spring recovering from shoulder surgery. One area Canales will focus on this spring is improving USF's red-zone effectiveness.
FIND MATT GROTHE'S BACKUP
Redshirt freshmen B.J. Daniels and Evan Landi will compete this spring to be the top backup to senior QB Matt Grothe, entering his fourth year as the starter. Daniels and Landi should have plenty of chances to prove themselves on the field this fall, as USF's first three games are against I-AA's Wofford and Charleston Southern and I-A newcomer Western Kentucky. Daniels has spent the past three months with USF's basketball team, but the two-sport talent enters spring drills as the favorite to succeed Grothe as starter in 2010.
FIVE PLAYERS WHO COULD EMERGE
Craig Marshall, Jr. DE: Can establish himself as starter opposite Selvie with strong spring. Jon Lejiste, Fr. S: Converted corner will battle Jerrell Young for wide-open strong safety job. Daniel Bryant, Fr. WR: Took medical redshirt in fall but could surprise with size and speed. Mark Popek, Fr. OT: Huge at 6-7, 305 pounds, will face challenges for starting job in August. Cory Grissom, Fr. DT: Coaches raved about him in preseason, but leg injury postponed his arrival.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

USF spring football preview 03/09/09 [Last modified: Monday, March 9, 2009 8:46pm]
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