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Practice Roundup - Divide And Conquer Edition

With some of the players finishing up their Summer B classes in the morning, the coaches ended up holding two practices on Friday -- one in the morning for basically the starters, and one in the afternoon for mostly the newcomers.

1. Michael Manganello was out at the Morsani Practice Fields for the Tribune, and he focused on two things from Friday morning's practice -- the Bulls' offense practicing at a faster tempo, and the presence of A.J. Love and Sterling Griffin.

I think the Bulls' slow pace on offense last year (as Bill Connelly's preview on the mothership noted, it was well below the national average) was deliberate, and I've already gone over the reasons a couple of times. It behooved them to run the ball because that's what they were (relatively) good at, and also they planned for close, low-scoring games on account of their good defense and inconsistent offense. Speeding it up in practice has two benefits. Holtz pointed out one of them in his post-practice interviews -- teams like Pittsburgh and West Virginia are going to rev up the offensive tempo to speeds USF has not seen maybe ever, and it's easier to get used to it now and slow it down against teams like Connecticut than it is to try and get up on Pittsburgh's level in four days. The second is that the offense should be able to run their own system quicker now that they're more used to it.

And of course having Love and Griffin back at full speed will help a lot. Like I said in my wide receiver preview on SB Nation Tampa Bay, putting them back in the lineup lets other receivers move to where they're most comfortable, instead of maybe being forced into roles that don't fit them. The situation with Griffin and Love is like when a hockey team has some of their their top scorers injured. No team can totally replace their most talented players when they're hurt. All they can do is move guys up from lower lines who aren't as skilled on offense, and change the way they play to keep the score low and give themselves a chance to win. Then when the scorers come back, not only are they back in the lineup, but your checking-line players can go back to doing what they do best, you can reset your defensive system... it ripples through the whole team.

2. For the second day in a row, Chaz Hine lined up at center, which is a wrinkle not many people probably expected. Greg Auman reports it's Hine at center, and Jeremiah "Mr. Lobster" Warren and Danous "Mr. Cadillac" Estenor at the guard positions. They may just be working on something during camp and Kevin McCaskill will be back under center before the games or scrimmages, but it's still worth keeping an eye on.

3. Since the afternoon practice was off-limits to the media, all of the video is from the morning. USF's official site has the interviews with Holtz, defensive coordinator Mark Snyder, plus Griffin and Love.

4. ESPN's Andrea Adelson has been releasing some interviews throughout the week that she got on camera at Big East Media Days, and she's posted her interview with cornerback Quenton Washington.

5. During the morning practice, Greg got a quick picture of Bobby Eveld, who hasn't cut his hair since last season ended. Eveld now looks like Kelly Leak.