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Practice Roundup: Day 1

While everyone else in Tampa Bay was busy going berserk over catwalks (I did my share), USF held their first fall football practice yesterday. First up, the quick bullet points. All these nuggets are included in at least one of the links scattered throughout this post.

  • Everyone was at practice today except for Dontae Aycock, who is expected on Friday.
  • White helmets. Also white and green cleats, instead of black. You fashionistas can make of that what you will.
  • B.J. Daniels was in the red no-contact jersey that he wore all through spring practice and in the spring game. But it doesn't sound like that's going to last very long.
  • Freshman offensive tackle Jake Kaufman weighed in at a whopping 362 pounds, which should satiate a few people who got mad when 370-pound Jose Jose didn't pick the Bulls back in February. (Although that kind of turned out to be a blessing in disguise.)
  • Bobby Eveld, who played football and baseball at Jesuit High School and was actually picked in the 50th round of the MLB Draft by the New York Mets, was an additional quarterback in the rotation of B.J. Daniels, Jamius Gunsby (wearing #8, hmmm), and Ryan Eppes.
  • Isaac Virgin has been shifted to wide receiver. Yes, a 249-pound wide receiver. I'm going to guess they try and get a few pounds off him before the season begins.
  • The coaches all stressed that the first few days are for installing parts of their systems and that they are throwing a lot of information at the players right out of the chute. Once they get to Vero Beach, that's when they'll start going back and re-teaching the nuances, making sure everyone has perfected what they're learning now.
  • Holtz re-used the "drinking through a fire hose" Holtzism from Wednesday's press conference.

-- The official USF site has put together a filed his story for the Tribune. Interesting quote from Fitch at the end about Evan Landi, who I had written about as kind of a canary in the receiver/quarterback coal mine.

"Evan Landi is going to be a key figure for us. If he can move the chains for us on third-and-6, he's going to have a great role."

That really piqued my interest because when I compared Landi's situation to Kerry Meier's at Kansas, that was pretty much the role Meier filled for the Jayhawks. Dezmon Briscoe was the big-play guy, while Meier kept the chains moving. Hoping for Landi to make the tough catches might tell us that the coaches really, really want to be able to leave him at wide receiver. Especially now that the position has gotten so thin.

-- In addition to his practice report and his update on the three players who are graduating and moving on from the program, Greg Auman also had a blog entry about the Bulls' numerology, and I'm pretty sure he was the one asking Skip Holtz all the questions about it during the post-practice interviews. (Note to self: Learn these guys' voices so you know who's asking the questions. The only voice you know right now is Toro's, and that doesn't count.) Anyway, I love this kind of nerdy stuff and I thought there were two really salient points that Holtz made.

First, he mentioned that he doesn't want to do too much double-numbering if it can be avoided. You're allowed to give players on different sides of the ball the same number, but they can't be on the field at the same time, and that was Holtz's main concern. He specifically mentioned a scenario where Lindsey Lamar and Jon Lejiste (who both wore #5 in spring practice) were both on the same punt return unit - he wouldn't have been able to put them in the game together. That leads into a theme of player versatility that I'm starting to notice when the coaches talk... but more on that some other time.

The second point is that Holtz knows kids want the cool, single-digit uniform numbers, and he's fine with that, but he wants them to earn them when they're available. Most of the single-digit uniforms have been worn with distinction by someone in USF history, whether it's Charlie Jackson wearing #1, or Mike Jenkins in #4, or Kawika Mitchell's #5, or Matt Grothe's #8. (And like I wrote in our Hugh Smith piece, #2 might be the most "successful" number in team history.) So I'm totally on board with making those numbers merit-based. It might seem like kind of a silly way to motivate someone, but showing them the big shoes they have to fill to earn, say, Andre Hall's #2 might be something to strive for. And in that same vein, letting Gunsby wear #8 or giving Todd Chandler #95 might give them that extra confidence boost, because it's a way for the coaches to tell them they think they have the potential of the guys who used to wear those numbers.