USF enjoys 'awesome' turnout for spring football game

USF's Darius Tice makes a run for the white team during the University of South Florida's Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016 at Corbett Stadium at USF.
USF's Darius Tice makes a run for the white team during the University of South Florida's Spring Game on Saturday afternoon, April 16, 2016 at Corbett Stadium at USF.
Published April 17, 2016

TAMPA — Slightly less conspicuous than the sight of Jameis Winston in a Bulls jersey Saturday was the volume of fans who joined the Bucs quarterback and former FSU standout inside USF's soccer complex.

Those undeterred lobbyists for an on-campus USF football stadium found some fresh campaign fodder on a warm, windy day. The announced crowd of 4,418 that turned out for the Bulls' annual Green and White Game — a 32-19 White triumph — exceeded last year's crowd by 1,163.

"Totally awesome," said coach Willie Taggart, whose club brandished far more depth at the skill spots Saturday than it did in last year's breakthrough 8-5 season.

"I think our football team showed they can play at a high level (last season). We've got the support by our administrative staff. Now the next step is to get that unrelenting fan base that we need here."

While Winston — a boyhood friend of Bulls defensive end LaDarrius Jackson — hung out on the sideline, hundreds opted to recline on the berms around the stadium instead of the bleachers. Just outside, tailgating ensued as food trucks did hearty business.

Makes you ponder what could be in the fall, with a real football yard and a real game. Here are four other things we took away from the scrimmage:

Quinton Flowers is the undisputed starting quarterback

Though four projected starting offensive linemen and two-time 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack (eight carries, 37 yards) were on the other side, Flowers (15-for-22, 129 yards, one TD, one INT) had the White team out to a 17-0 lead before you could say "incumbent."

His trademark zone-read runs (10 carries, 45 yards) were accompanied by throws clearly crisper than a year ago. "Confidence, man," said senior wideout A.J. Legree (seven catches, 73 yards). "He knows what he's doing, and us guys, we know what we're doing as well."

Receivers in bulk

Remember when USF's passing game consisted of Andre Davis and … Andre Davis? Now, the potential at receiver is off the depth charts.

"Night and day," Taggart said.

Seven guys had at least three catches Saturday. Senior Rodney Adams, fresh off his breakthrough year, picked up 65 of his 91 yards on a long TD pass from UCLA transfer Asiantii Woulard. Sophomore Tyre McCants (six catches, 83 yards) had TD receptions of 20 and 38 yards.

Baylor East?

Just before the start of spring practice, Taggart and a couple of staffers hung out a few days at Baylor, culling ideas from the Bears' breakneck spread scheme. On Saturday, it showed.

While Taggart said fans saw less than 25 percent of USF's offense in the game, the Baylor influence — including receivers spread so wide they almost bumped into the chain gang — was visible.

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Stay updated on Tampa Bay’s sports scene

Subscribe to our free Sports Today newsletter

We’ll send you news and analysis on the Bucs, Lightning, Rays and Florida’s college football teams every day.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

"It stretches (the defense) out, and a lot of the disguising they want to do, they can't disguise," Taggart said.

The 'Bull Sharks' bent and sometimes broke

Though visibly better than the spring's initial scrimmage, when it had no answer for Flowers, the 4-2-5 defense remained susceptible to big plays. Four TDs went for 20 or more yards.

"You look at that first scrimmage, we couldn't stop our offense at all," said middle linebacker Auggie Sanchez, who did have two of the day's four interceptions. "And we're still not great. You know, 19-32, we don't really like that. We want it to be 10-7, 7-7, so we've got a lot of work to be done. But we have grown from that first scrimmage."

Contact Joey Knight at Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.