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USF coach Jeff Scott dialing in on detail as spring drills begin

The Bulls’ new football coach insists every player is beginning with a clean slate.
New USF football coach Jeff Scott holds his first spring practice Tuesday. [Joey Knight]
New USF football coach Jeff Scott holds his first spring practice Tuesday. [Joey Knight]

TAMPA ― He insists he still hasn’t watched a snippet of USF’s 2019 season, which some wiseacres would say is a smart move.

But for new Bulls coach Jeff Scott, the refusal to watch a game ― or even a practice ― from predecessor Charlie Strong’s forgettable final season isn’t so much about turning his eyes away from an unsightly past as it is turning his gaze toward a fresh future.

One bereft of preconceived assessments based on past performance.

“To me, I wanted the first day of spring practice to be the first time that I saw any of these guys in their college career,” Scott said Monday, “and really to give each and every one of them a fresh, clean start, and really let the depth chart kind of build itself.”

Related: Clemson is in Jeff Scott's blood, and USF is getting a transfusion

Yet that would seem to raise a mild dilemma as the Bulls embark on the first spring practice of the Scott era Tuesday morning: If the head coach hasn’t watched any of the 86 guys on his roster, and everyone is starting with a clean slate, who takes the field when the first-team offense and defense are summoned?

”We did not have a lottery; that would’ve been pretty cool,” Scott said. “The assistant coaches, they’ve watched video, they did their research, they’ve looked at things, so I’ve kind of left that on them.

“What I told our team this morning is, you can take these depth charts that you’re gonna see (Tuesday) morning when you show up, and you can throw ’em in the trash for all I care, ’cause they’re gonna change.”

While the normal factors (talent, toughness, consistency, etc.) clearly will create depth-chart separation, effort and attention to detail also will be determinants in what could be the most meticulously scrutinized set of spring practices in program history.

That tone was established earlier this winter in eight predawn mat-drill sessions the coaching staff was permitted to oversee. Each session featured eight strenuous, football-related workouts or “stations.”

“Every single drill has a finish line,” Scott said. “And it’s like, ‘Do you strain through the finish, or do you glide through the finish?’ And the drills are set up that if you don’t finish the correct way to our expectation, then everybody starts the drill over again.”

Those drills represented a precursor to what begins Tuesday, Scott indicated.

Anyone whose foot is not clearly behind the line at the start of a wind sprint will be assessed a “loaf,” which Scott will tabulate. Same for those who don’t run hard all the way to the sprint’s end.

Because coaches have no audio on the practice film they study, a team manager will stand 10 yards behind a quarterback at the start of each play in 11-on-11 work. When the play is whistled dead, the manager runs in and waves a flag.

“So the coach can stop the video and say, ‘Okay, the two of you guys stopped before the flag got flown, those are loafs,’” Scott said.

“That’ll be the biggest thing early on that will move the depth chart more than the talent and the ability, is really getting the guys to play to our standard and what we’re asking effort-wise.”

Odds and ends

• Scott announced offensive line coach Allen Mogridge also will hold the title of assistant head coach, while cornerbacks coach Jules Montinar also will serve as recruiting coordinator.

• Alexa Rodriguez is the football team’s new director of nutrition, a position the program hasn’t previously had.

• Scott said redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Armon Williams (unspecified) is the only player who won’t be able to participate in spring drills. A handful of others will participate on a limited basis.

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