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  1. USF Bulls

While Flowers starts, linebackers will sit

Roughly 15 hours after naming Quinton Flowers his starting quarterback, USF coach Willie Taggart indicated the 21-year-old sophomore's mobility gave him a mild edge in his duel with senior Steven Bench.

"I think both of 'em can run with their legs. Quinton is unique," Taggart said after Tuesday morning's practice. "He can make guys miss. He can do some things the average Joe can't do, and I think that's what makes him different."

Tuesday's workout -- Flowers' first as the announced starter -- came 11 days before the Bulls formally unveil their new zone-read, spread-style scheme in the season opener against Florida A&M at Raymond James Stadium. The high-tempo system is similar to what Flowers operated at Miami Jackson, where he totaled more than 8,000 yards in four seasons.

In five appearances (one start) last season, he gained 73 yards on 13 carries, and finished 8-for-20 for 111 yards with two interceptions. While his velocity has noticeably increased since last fall, he's expected to manage a system that will lean heavily on zone reads and handoffs to 2014 American Athletic Conference 1,000-yard rusher Marlon Mack.

"The things I showed the coaches was my running ability," Flowers said. "I'm very mobile with my legs, I can do a lot of things with my legs. I've got speed, I've got things some of the (running) backs can do like Marlon Mack."

Taggart said he and his staff "really put a big emphasis" on scrimmage performances in ultimately settling on Flowers, who now must "cement" his status as the No. 1 guy.

"(Being named) starter doesn't mean you finish the season that way," Taggart said. "You've got to go in and cement that by your production."

Additionally, Taggart announced his top two weakside linebackers, junior Nigel Harris and senior Tashon Whitehurst, have been suspended the season's first two games for an unspecified violation of team rules this past spring. Harris, the Division I leader in forced fumbles (0.55 per game) last season, was suspended the latter part of spring drills.

The Bulls face FSU in their second game, Sept. 12 in Tallahassee. Redshirt freshman Jimmy Bayes, freshman Danny Thomas and senior C.J. Garye are the likely replacements in defensive coordinator Tom Allen's 4-2-5 scheme.

Only Garye (six career tackles) has appeared in a college game.

"We count on everyone; we've talked about being all-in from Day One," Taggart said. "We're counting on every guy to come out there, but we're not gonna let any of those guys' mistakes stop us from what we're trying to do.

"We're gonna continue to go out and play and next guy up...and those guys have got to work their butt off to come back and play and earn the job back."

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