Is Bruce Gipson headed back to playing primarily on defense?
A surprising guest appearance at cornerback late in Saturday's double-overtime win against Texas Christian could be a sign of things to come for the versatile senior. Asked which side Gipson would be playing on, coach Jim Leavitt said, "probably both."
But Gipson, a cornerback the past two seasons before shifting to receiver this spring, hinted he could be spending more time on defense than offense.
"Possibly, but I can't really say," Gipson said Tuesday. "It's all on the coaches. Wherever they want me to play, I have no problem. I'll play offensive line if they want me to. I don't want to get down in the trenches, but as long as I'm helping the team."
In three games at receiver, Gipson has a modest five catches for 28 yards. His experience would be an asset on defense, where freshman Danny Verpaele is starting at strong safety and redshirt freshmen Mike Jenkins and Trae Williams are platooning at one cornerback spot.
Gipson played some of the fourth quarter and both overtimes at cornerback Saturday and blocked a field goal in the fourth quarter. His success was more impressive because one week earlier, his stepbrother, 21-year-old Del'Trone Gomilla, drowned while saving a family from a rip current.
"I think it was extraordinary," Leavitt said of Gipson's performance, which came one day after he and teammate Javan Camon, a friend of both since childhood, were pallbearers at Gomilla's funeral. "It's a lot for a young guy to handle, and I think Bruce and Javan did an admirable job."
Gipson wrote his stepbrother's initials on his shoes and on the tape wrapped around his ankles. And he wrote a message on the tape he put around his belt: "Del, We love you."
"I knew he wanted me to play. I knew he was looking down on me to make something happen," Gipson said. "And I dedicated the game to him."
Gipson's stepmother, Kimberly, is home and recovering after a heart attack sustained when she learned of her son's death. Before Saturday's game, Gipson's father will bring him a shirt with Gomilla's picture on the front.
"I'll wear that shirt for the rest of the year," he said.
SEEING YELLOW: USF leads Division I-A in penalties and penalty yards, averaging 12.67 for 103 yards in three games.
"It will be hard for us to be very successful (if it continues)," Leavitt said. "Maybe we can lead the nation in penalties and win. We've got to play more disciplined if we expect to make a run at everything. All you can hope is that the guys see that."
MORE TV GAMES: Sunshine will air the only remaining games not previously designated for broadcast, home against East Carolina on Nov. 13 and at Cincinnati on Nov. 20. The Cincinnati broadcast is contingent on the Bearcats approving a change in the kickoff from 1 p.m. to 3:30.
POSSESSION OF DIRT: Several players, savoring Saturday's win, took plugs of turf from the field as souvenirs to be buried FSU-style in a "Sod Cemetary."
"They left last year with grass in their palms, and we left with grass in our palms," said running back Andre Hall, who scored four touchdowns.
The most amusing aftermath came from killerfrogs.com, where fans complained police stood by while the Bulls "vandalized" their field. More classless than the grass theft, they lamented, was the way USF "waited until almost everyone was gone to throw the contents of (the) ice chests onto the playing field."
"We all know that ice will kill grass, and it was no accident that he carried 2 ice chests from deep behind the sidelines and tossed 5-10 pounds of ice onto the field," one post reads. "The same cop watched him as well."
THIS AND THAT: After 10 matches on the road, the volleyball team finally gets to play at home at 7 p.m. Friday against Charlotte in the Conference USA opener for both. USF (2-8) has been close in recent losses, including 30-28, 28-30, 30-21, 32-30 at Central Florida on Friday. Despite two recent ties, the men's soccer team (5-0-2) will be unbeaten halfway through its season if it can avoid a loss tonight at Florida Atlantic. Defender Kareem Smith was C-USA's co-defensive player of the week, the third consecutive week a Bull has claimed at least a share of that honor.