USF has had just 12 spring practices under new football coach Willie Taggart, but the Bulls already have a good sense of what to expect going forward. All over the practice field, there are new quirks and idiosyncrasies that come with Taggart football. Here are a few as spring drills wrap up this weekend:
USF has had only a few injuries this spring, but players sidelined from practice stay plenty busy. This is done in a number of ways — more than just riding the traditional stationary bike — among them: Sidelined players pull sleds with weights around the perimeter of the three practice fields, and when punter Chris Veron was limited by a foot injury, trainers had him push a huge stone ball around instead.
To test players' focus and encourage ball security, Taggart runs drills with an extra football. Punt returners practice fielding punts while already holding a ball in their arms (two even). Running backs run through the "gauntlet" drill while holding a ball in each arm, the idea being if they can maintain possession of two in practice, holding onto one can't be too hard.
That's what Taggart calls the warmup time at the start of practice. It follows what he learned as an assistant at Stanford, where Bulls strength coach Hans Straub was an assistant as well. Fans will see stretches with resistance bands and hurdle stretching with a bank of six hurdles closely bunched and players walking over each one.
The end of a practice may take one back to Little League baseball. The Bulls form two lines, then, in that same childhood show of sportsmanship, go down the line to slap one hand after another.