The Bulls practiced in pads Wednesday at the Frank Morsani Football Complex and got a much needed respite from the blistering sun.
CB Ronnie Hoggins is dressed out for practice but is NOT out there with the first-team defense. CB Johnny Ward is in his place.— Nathan Bond (@BullsNathanSBN) October 12, 2016
- Defensive coordinator Raymond Woodie said cornerback Ronnie Hoggins (calf) did go through some drills today but would not comment on his status for Saturday. In the 20-25 minutes of practice I saw waiting outside of the gates, Hoggins did not participate. The team will have a walk-through Thursday, so time is of the essence for Hoggins to be ready to suit up. Hoggins had what appeared to be a compression sleeve on his right calf.
- If Hoggins isn’t available for Saturday, expect veteran CB and resident “Old Man” Johnny Ward to step in for him. Head coach Willie Taggart and Woodie have no problems with Ward coming in and logging major minutes for the defense.
“You want to know the character of our football team look at a guy like Johnny Ward,” Taggart said after Saturday’s win vs ECU. “He played a lot of football for us here, had his position taken, and he easily could have went into a shell, but he didn’t. He’s ready when his time is called and he goes out and takes care of business.”
Woodie praised how always prepared and detail-orientated Ward is after Wednesday’s practice.
- Ward knows that the secondary will have their hands full when UConn wide receiver Noel Thomas comes to town.
“He’s gonna be an NFL guy,” Ward said. “He’s got great hands, pretty good speed and they’re gonna get him the ball. We just have match up and execute the plays.”
Ward said the cornerbacks won’t shadow Thomas and will stick to one side Last week, ECU receiver Zay Jones lined up a lot on Ward’s side in the second half and you’d expect the Huskies to try to attack the side Deatrick Nichols isn’t on.
“I feel like all our corners can cover anyone in the conference,” Ward said.
- It’s been nine years since either UConn or USF has beaten the other team by more than eight points. The last time it happened was the 38-16 Bulls win in 2006 where Matt Grothe rushed for three scores and threw for another.
“No comment,” offensive coordinator T.J. Weist said with a chuckle after being asked if, despite all the close games, UConn may have picked the wrong Florida school to start a rivalry with. Weist was the head coach at UConn for eight games in 2013 after then-head coach Paul Pasqualoni was fired after an 0-4 start. His first game as head coach was a 13-10 loss to USF.
“I think there’s a mutual respect of toughness between the two schools,” Weist said.