Skip Holtz's first USF depth chart was released this afternoon. Since none of us made it to the scrimmage on Saturday (trust us, we all had good reasons), this depth chart helps shine the first bright light on the team's 2010 plans.
Some of the things that caught our eye:
-- Lindsey Lamar has been moved from running back to wide receiver. When Lamar was on the field last year, to me he was a symbol of uncreative offense and miscast pieces. There may have been reasons why he didn't get a whole lot of playing time, whether it was not wanting to get him injured, or a lack of trust, or too much trust in someone like Mike Ford. But when he was out there, instead of finding unique ways to get him the ball, he was just another runner in the rotation. You don't take a 160-pound running back who runs like the wind and ask him to carry the ball around your own goal line. (This happened against West Virginia, and not surprisingly he was stopped for a safety. That wasn't even the first time they tried it, either.) Holtz admitted that the coaches didn't think Lamar would make it for four years as a running back with his size.
In his new role Lamar could be a slot receiver, which opens up lots of new ways to get him the ball. Running pass routes, or part of a wildcat setup, or screen passes, or end-around runs, or even the option. Come to think of it, I bet defensive coordinators would be scared to death to see him and B.J. Daniels run an option together. One wrong decision and it's a touchdown because no one's chasing those guys down. Note to self: Try this when NCAA Football 11 comes out.
-- Isaac Virgin has been moved from tight end to fullback. Now there are two fullbacks on the depth chart. In years past, the Bulls couldn't really be bothered to use the one fullback they had (Michael Kelly) unless they put him at tailback as a late-game hammer. If Holtz is moving another player to that position, it adds to the promise of downhill running and maybe some two-back offensive sets, which haven't been seen for awhile.
-- Not surprisingly, Mo Plancher is the first-string running back. Demetris Murray is second and Bradley Battles is at #3, but that may change when the recruits come on campus. There's going to be a ton of competition at this position, from these three, the three incoming freshmen (although I bet at least one of them redshirts), and the backs who aren't on the depth chart right now.
-- Evan Landi is listed as either the 5th or 6th wide receiver on the chart. I'm wondering whether he might end up moving back to QB at some point. Todd Fitch has said he would like to have a 1,000-yard receiver, which would probably mean there won't be a whole lot of rotation at that position. With how thin USF is under center (unless you're going to be comfortable having true freshman Jamius Gunsby backing up Daniels), I could see Landi moving back. He may not see the field very much as a receiver unless there are blowouts or injuries or both.
-- I'm excited about the offensive line already. The first string on the depth chart (Jamar Bass, Jeremiah Warren, Sampson Genus, Chaz Hine, and Jacob Sims) has 65 combined starts, and that's not even counting Zach Hermann, who's sitting out this spring, or the two earth-moving recruits, Jake Kaufman (6'8", 320) and Quinterrius Eatmon (6'6", 320), who should arrive this fall. Hopefully USF can turn the tables on some people this year and start pounding the ball down their throats, instead of the other way around.
-- Ken was surprised that David Bedford and Keith McCaskill were first string at defensive end and defensive tackle, respectively. Especially the second one, where he figured either Cory Grissom or Leslie Stirrups would be at the top. Seems like there might be a hidden placeholder in there for highly-touted Kyle Chandler when he arrives this fall.
-- Kind of surprised to see Claude Davis all the way down at third string defensive end with what he accomplished in community college. Then again, he has only gone through two weeks of practice, and there's plenty of depth at that position, so it may just be a numbers game with him.
-- Ryne Giddins is second string, which could make his promise of 42.5 sacks this year tougher to reach.
-- Jacquian Williams is the starter at strong-side linebacker, which means he'll be playing up on the line quite a bit in Mark Snyder's under packages. He runs a 4.5 40, which is ideal for the SLB position in that system, but he might be too tall (6'4") and lanky (222 lbs.) for that role. I hope they get him in the weight room between now and fall. Otherwise I could see him getting blown off the ball on occasion.
-- There might be another placeholder at cornerback for incoming freshman Terrence MItchell. There's very little experience among the two-deep at corner (Quenton Washington is the only one who's been a regular starter) and it could be the thinnest position on defense. Mitchell may get a chance to contribute right away.
-- Jon Lejiste is your first-string strong safety. I'm gonna go watch the FSU hit about 15 more times to celebrate. I might like him a little too much.
-- Eric Schwartz beat out Maikon Bonani for top spot at kicker. I think this might change once Bonani has more time to get back into a groove - his leg is stronger and I think he's more accurate.