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Fall Practice: Five Days In

As fall camp kicks into high gear, Willie Taggart and his quarterbacks speak after Monday's practice.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The offense ran gassers Monday afternoon after the defense prevailed in a live 11-on-11 scrimmage. Quarterbacks Steven Bench, Quinton Flowers and Brett Kean had trouble moving the ball against an increasingly tough "Bull Shark" defense. The "Bull Shark" name seems to be sticking around, by the way. The defense shouts it together whenever they huddle up in practice.

Tajee Fullwood got a pick-six, after which Defensive Coordinator Tom Allen ran through the end zone to jump on 6'2" Fullwood's shoulders. Not bad for a 45-year-old.

The defense has been swarming on any run to the outside, but does have some trouble stopping runs up the middle (this is a problem when you only have two linebackers). They haven't been giving up a lot of big plays, and they are good at breaking up and intercepting passes. Short throws to the flats seem to be their biggest weakness so far.

"I think I did pretty good," said Bench after the scrimmage. "I got plenty of things that I need to improve on, but I got a lot of help from my line, I got a lot of help from my receivers and my tight ends and my running backs, and as an offense we're doing a real good job." He's right, too. You can't expect offense to be winning much this early in practice, and the fact that they are keeping the hurry-up-no-huddle pace is encouraging.

Bench didn't have much to say about the quarterback battle, probably because he knows nothing different in his USF career. "If a coach wants to have six quarterbacks playing, then he wants to have six quarterbacks playing. That's not for anybody except the coach to decide. If he thinks that gives them the best chance to win then that gives them the best chance to win."

Coach Taggart, however, plans to find a starter and stick with him. "We're looking for somebody to separate himself. That's what we're looking for. One of those guys is going to separate himself and we're going to have ourselves a quarterback," said Taggart when asked about the possibility of platooning. He added, "I think what's best for our football team is for that individual to separate himself and show this entire team that he can lead this team and be the guy and not turn the ball over, and execute."

Quinton Flowers sounded optimistic about his chances to win the starting spot. "Last year, you know I didn't really get an opportunity, but I just come out every day. I don't think about last year. It's my opportunity now, you know, I can take it where I can, and run with it or just let it be like last year, which I'm not."

Flowers' speed and agility are likely to be what "separates" him from Bench, but he wasn't about to say he expected to win the starting spot. "I just compete every day and just try to get one percent better, two percent better."

Some incoming freshmen have already impressed the coaching staff, including quarterback Brett Kean and wide receiver Chris Barr. By all accounts, redshirt freshman tight end Elkanah Dillon is also having an outstanding camp.

The coaches encourage the Bulls to concentrate even as they are plagued by the heat of August. "We have this thing about 'Freddie Soft,'" explained Taggart. "It gets hot and guys get tired and you've got to brush Freddie Soft off because he'll cause you not to get a job around here, so you've got to defend against Freddie. He's a little guy about this big," Taggart said as he held up a thumb and forefinger.

Whatever name you give it, the Bulls will need to stay sharp as camp continues. Monday's practice lasted almost three hours, and two-a-days begin Tuesday morning.