TAMPA ― Based on the partial injury report Charlie Strong revealed Monday, USF’s chances at an upset Friday night at heavily-favored UCF might have down-shifted from improbable to implausible.
Senior rushing leader Jordan Cronkrite and fellow senior tailback Trevon Sands, both of whom missed Saturday’s 49-10 loss to Memphis with shoulder injuries, will not play against the Knights, Strong confirmed.
Other starters also could be sidelined, he indicated.
The absence of Cronkrite (687 yards, 5.1 yards per carry) and Sands (207 yards) means 5-foot-9, 175-pound freshman Kelley Joiner again assumes most of the rushing workload against the American Athletic Conference’s third-best run defense (145.9 ypg).
Joiner ran for 50 yards on his first two carries, and added a 22-yarder on the final play of the first half, but totaled 43 yards on his other 10 handoffs as his daylight vanished. Also unable to protect any of its three quarterbacks, USF managed five first downs and 44 passing yards, both program single-game lows.
“We definitely tried to protect the quarterback with some max protection last week,” senior tight end Mitch Wilcox said. “We can’t have a free hitter in the box. … We’ve just got to capitalize on our situational opportunities.”
Elsewhere, Strong was vague about who might remain sidelined Friday, but did say quarterback Jordan McCloud should be fine after the redshirt freshman injured his throwing hand against the Tigers.
Middle linebacker Patrick Macon (ankle) played minimally against Memphis, while junior defensive tackles Kevin Kegler and Kelvin Pinkney didn’t suit up at all. Pinkney has a hand injury; Kegler’s ailment hasn’t been specified.
“We’re still beat up some, but a lot of guys made it back,” Strong said. “Just going into that game on Friday, some guys we’ll be without, but we should be okay with most of the guys that played the other night.”
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