TAMPA ― Thanks to some benevolence by the Bucs, USF was able to scrimmage Saturday with no concern of heavy rain or lightning.
But even indoors, the Bulls couldn’t avoid another flag deluge.
Per Coach Charlie Strong, penalties plagued USF for the second consecutive closed scrimmage, this one staged at the Bucs’ indoor facility at the Advent Health Training Center. On the uplifting side, the scrimmage featured no interceptions or missed field goals.
But Strong, whose team ranked 110th nationally last year with nearly 68 penalty yards a game, indicated lack of discipline ― at least from a penalty perspective ― remains a concern.
“I think one time we had three penalties in one drive that kept us out of the end zone,” Strong said. “You have three or four false starts, then you have a holding call that negates a big play, get a pass interference. You can’t have those penalties.”
The scrimmage’s highlight occurred near the end, when senior tailback Jordan Cronkrite made a diving one-handed snag of a Blake Barnett pass in the middle of the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.
Barnett also had a 12-yard scoring pass to tight end Mitch Wilcox and a 40-yarder to slot receiver Johnny Ford, according to USF. Redshirt freshman backup Jordan McCloud hooked up with Ford for a 36-yard TD.
Cronkrite’s play “was really nice,” Barnett said.
“We had a concept on the outside, basically put Jordan one-on-one with a linebacker. I threw it up and he made an insane catch right in the back of the end zone. ... I didn’t see anything, I just saw the ball go and I see his hand reach out and stuck it in there.”
Senior end Kirk Livingstone had three sacks to lead the defensive effort, while short-range kicker Coby Weiss booted 35- and 27-yard field goals, while long-range guy Spencer Shrader nailed a 39-yarder.
“I just appreciate the Bucs for allowing us to come in and get our work in, because it’s been raining all week,” said Strong, who had to pull his team off the Morsani Complex fields twice Wednesday due to rain and lightning.
“Had a chance to talk to (Bucs co-chairman) Bryan (Glazer) and (general manager) Jason (Licht), and we were able to get communications where we could come in, and I really appreciate that.”
MORE USF: Michael Kelly pitches indoor facility at USF luncheon
New spots for Evans, Roland
Strong confirmed freshman Jahquez Evans, expected to vie for the No. 3 quarterback job, has moved to receiver. As a result, walk-ons Augie DeBiase, Kirk Rygol and Kaden Frost are vying for the No. 3 spot, which has yet to be determined.
“(Evans) is learning the position but (he’s) very athletic,” Strong said. “He’s gonna be fine there, he’s just got to continue to grow into it.”
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Strong also confirmed Admiral Farragut alumnus Zion Roland has switched from receiver to cornerback. Roland had five receptions for 60 yards as a freshman in 2018.
“Zion’s athletic and he’s got good size to him,” Strong said, “so the transition from receiver to corner hasn’t been too big of a deal for him.”
MORE USF: Now, Blake Barnett has the ingredients to lead USF
Odds and ends
Still no word on the status of transfers KJ Sails (North Carolina cornerback) and Latrell Williams (Tennessee receiver), both of whom are seeking waivers that would allow them to play this fall. ... Senior receiver Stanley Clerveaux, who missed a handful of practices while nursing an undisclosed injury, suited up and participated Saturday. ... Former Tennessee defensive end Ryan Thaxton, who has been cleared by USF to play this season, is on campus but hasn’t yet participated in practice, Strong said.
“I just hope I have good hot weather that night, real steamy weather.” ― Strong on the Aug. 30 home season opener against Wisconsin