The 22nd preseason in USF football history commences Friday. As a prelude of sorts, we're spending the preceding days examining various players, trends, issues and records to watch this season. Today: A look at what's new in 2018.
* The uniforms, courtesy of the Bulls' new apparel partner, Adidas. In case you've been off the grid this summer, here's a look at the all-green version (We're still awaiting other color combinations).
* The practice slate. The Bulls will practice in the morning the first two weeks of fall camp, then switch to late-afternoon workouts when classes commence Aug. 20.
This represents a change from the last three years, when the Bulls practiced in the morning throughout the season. Why the switch? We hear coaches believe the players will perform a bit sharper in the afternoons as opposed to 9 or 10 a.m. (the crack of dawn for most collegians).
Afternoons also represent a slightly better simulation of game-day weather. USF's first three contests kick off at 6 p.m., noon and 3:30, respectively.
Of course, a few consecutive late-day storms could alter this plan. In other news, no announcement yet on a ground-breaking for the indoor practice facility.
* The quarterback. No duh, right? But have you stopped to ponder just how long Quinton Flowers engineered the Bulls' offense? Whoever starts the season opener will be the first quarterback not named Flowers to start for USF since Nov. 28, 2014. If our math is accurate, that's a stretch of 1,372 days.
* The stretch run. The schedule also features a new twist of sorts. For the first time in a half-decade, USF will play north of the Mason-Dixon Line in November. In fact, the Bulls will do it twice.
USF will play at Cincinnati on Nov. 10, then travel to Temple a week later. The Bulls' last game that far north in November (or later) was a 31-6 embarrassment at Rutgers on Dec. 7, 2013.
* The radio analyst. Many Bulls fans still are grieving over Mark Robinson's recent announcement that he's stepping down after 21 seasons (and 251 games) as USF Radio Network analyst to devote more time to his family.
A nine-year NFL veteran and All-American safety at Penn State, Robinson's passion and warm personality made him popular among peers and the fan base. He and venerable play-by-play voice Jim Louk have remained the only radio tandem Bulls football fans have known. Until now.
No word yet on Robinson's replacement.