USF football held their second fall practice today at the Sycamore Fields on a scorching hot day that held steady at 96 degrees even at 6 p.m. Head coach Charlie Strong roamed the field in his typical white long-sleeved Under Armour shirt, overseeing the turnaround on defense.
“The first day of practice is always challenging, you know. Just getting out here trying to get into football shape,” senior defensive tackle Bruce Hector said. “I think we did a good job of coming out and having a better day on day two. I think we’ll continue to build on it and get better every day. Day two is always better than day one.”
The defense under new defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary isn’t much of a change from what the Bulls ran in 2016. The terminology is different, according to Hector, and there are “some wrinkles.”
A major concern for Strong and BJM is the relative lack of depth on the defensive line and at linebacker. Jean-Mary said ideally he’d like to travel to road games with at least ten linebackers because those guys are so important on special teams, but they may have to settle for eight this year because of the dearth of talent at the position.
“And that might be stretching it,” Jean-Mary said.
In the interior defensive line the Bulls will have four guys — Hector, senior Deadrin Senat, junior Kevin Bronson and sophomore Marlon Gonzalez — in the rotation. Jean-Mary is hoping at least one more player emerges to contribute.
“I believe we have some young guys that are gonna step up and play a big role for us and they’re actually gonna help us win games this year,” Senat said. “It’s up to us. It’s up to me, it’s up to Bruce (Hector), the seniors in this class to actually teach them and lead them and show them the way we do things.”
There’s no one better on the roster to learn from than Senat, who has been named to the Nagurski Award and Outland Trophy watch lists.
“Everything has to change. We can’t do what we did last year.” Senat said of turning around the defense from last season. “We wanna be great. And if you wanna be great, it starts up front with us. And it starts with us just going hard everyday in practice. Learning how to practice, learning how to be consistent and just letting things transfer over to game time. It’s just something that you gotta have in you. Our mentality has to change from every little thing that we do.”
- Former USF and NFL defensive end George Selvie has joined the weight room staff as he begins his journey into coaching. That makes four former Bulls on staff in some capacity, alongside Stephen Nicholas, Lindsey Lamar and Saki Mihalakos.
- The Bulls are off Wednesday before returning for day three on Thursday.
- Safety Craig Watts returned to practice today after leaving yesterday’s practice early. It seems that he was just battling some cramps in the heat.