Summer conditioning now is on the clock.
USF's spring football drills culminated with last weekend's annual intrasquad game at Corbett
Stadium. Based on the ear and eye tests, the Bulls emerged from this 15-day camp deeper, stronger and even a bit sleeker than they appeared in 2013.
Do areas of concern remain? Sure. Will their offense perform as efficiently against dudes in
different-colored jerseys? Possibly. Will the summer be as critical as the spring? You betcha. Nonetheless, it's clear the Bulls are better than they were four months ago.
So before the heat and humidity beckon, we wrap up what we observed and heard during the dozen workouts we attended.
WR Andre Davis
Refusing to rest on his bloated numbers of 2013 (49 catches, 735 yards), Davis performed like the mature veteran he is this spring. Which is to say, he was consistent. Though the offense appears to have been upgraded across the board, Davis remains the steadiest weapon. In the spring game, he led everyone with six catches for 124 yards and a TD.
Breakthrough Player of the Spring
ILB Auggie Sanchez
Four months earlier, Sanchez was a rookie fullback completing his freshman year. If the season started today, he'd be a lock for a starting inside-linebacker job. A tackling machine at Northeast High, Sanchez was switched in the winter to his natural position, where coaches say his football IQ gives him a noticeable edge. In the spring game, Sanchez led the White with seven tackles -- all solos.
Comeback Player of the Spring
OG Thor Jozwiak
Jozwiak (6-foot-4, 332 pounds) had worked his way into a starting job late in 2012 before an unspecified heart condition sidelined him all of last fall. This spring, it appeared as if he never had left the depth chart. At times, the interior stability Jozwiak provided was as prominent as his bleached mohawk. The No. 1 overall pick (by the White) in the Bulls' spring-game draft, Jozwiak's quarterbacks tried 34 passes in the intrasquad contest and were sacked once.
Newcomer of the Spring
WR Rodney AdamsWhile juco transfer Demetrius Hill instantly helped fill a glaring need at defensive end, and Pasco High alumnus Jamie Byrd injected some ferocity into the secondary, we're giving the nod
to this Toledo transfer. With his ranginess (6-1, 180) and raw athleticism, Adams helped deepen a receiving corps mostly nonexistent last year outside Andre Davis. In the spring game, he had five catches for 46 yards. Whether he lines up wide or in the slot may depend on his progress in the weight room this summer.
One Unit We're Sold On
Already an integral part of the Willie Taggart offense, this position did nothing but updgrade over the spring. Slimmed-down junior Sean Price (6-3, 249) was as consistent a pass catcher as anyone, and former Blake High star Mike McFarland (6-5, 260) appears physically destined for an NFL training camp if he can become a bit more sure-handed. Early enrollee Marlon Pope also had some nice moments.
One Unit We're Not Sold On
There's no question this group has improved from last season, but how much is that really saying? We just need to see it perform in a game against a bona fide opponent.
Audible of the Spring
"Jim claims that of all the family brothers, Willie's the favorite, because he did more to put the signature on our coaching career." -- Jack Harbaugh, Taggart's coach at Western Kentucky and father of NFL coaches John and Jim Harbaugh
Five Concerns Entering Fall
1. Will the defensive line possess any stability or depth?
2. Will the progress shown by the offensive line carry over into an actual game?
3. Third-down efficiency. The Green and White were a combined 5-for-19 on third down in the spring game.
4. Leadership. With DeDe Lattimore gone, who will be the locker-room rudder when things go off-course? Davis? DT Todd Chandler? DL Elkino Watson? Anyone? Bueller?
5. Can Marvin Kloss even approach the level of consistency he showed in '13? One has to presume the Bulls will have their share of nip-and-tuck outcomes this fall.