Starting left guard Mark Sopcik suffered a sprained left ankle in practice Tuesday. Sopcik, a sophomore who started the first two games, had to be carted off the field at the end of practice.
Sophomore Shelly Houston, originally slated to start at left guard in the opener, will fill Sopcik’s shoes should he be unable to play. However, USF coach Jim Leavitt said it was doubtful that Sopcik wouldn’t make the trip to Arkansas.
“I don’t know how bad it is,” Leavitt said. “It will have to be pretty bad for him to not travel this week.”
Sophomore cornerback Antonio Warren also skipped the last half of practice. Warren hadn’t eaten all day and started to feel the effects toward the end of the workout, Leavitt said.
One Bull who won’t make the trip to Arkansas Saturday is sophomore linebacker Jason Allen. During the Northern Illinois game, Allen suffered a sprained left knee and has been walking gingerly since.
Leavitt wrapped up practice with a lengthy talk with sophomore wide receiver Bruce Gipson. Concerned about special teams, Leavitt talked about using Gipson to supply depth on the punt return and kickoff teams as well as the possibility of playing him both ways.
Leavitt reaffirmed that sophomore Clenton Crossley would be the Bulls’ starter at running back after opening the Northern Illinois game with former Georgia transfer DeJuan Green. USF started the Florida Atlantic contest with four wide-outs and a tight end. But Leavitt also cited a need for more repetitions for Quinton Callum and Vince Brewer.
“We have to get Callum more involved,” Leavitt said. “But, these things have a way of playing themselves out. If everyone stays in the hunt, they’ll all play.”
On the bubble
ESPN’s Mid-Major Top 10 list slots USF at No. 6, the highest ranking of any Independent team. The poll, which ranks the best teams not in the six Bowl Championship Series conferences (ACC, Big East, Pac-10, Big Ten, Big XII, Southeastern), slides USF in at the sixth position, one behind Utah, which beat the Bulls 52-21 in 2001. Topping the list is Marshall out of the Mid-American Conference, and right behind it at No. 2 is Southern Miss, which comes to Tampa Oct. 12.
Talking about USF, the ESPN poll comments, “The Bulls’ schedule starts to get tough with trip to play Arkansas.”
Cross country congrats
Buoyed by his first-place finish at the Indiana Open, senior Andrew Smith grabbed Conference USA’s Male Cross Country Athlete of the Week.
On what is widely considered one of the toughest courses, Smith bested the host Hoosiers with a time of 22:10.4 to win the 7k race.
“I’m just extremely excited for Andrew that he’s finally getting the recognition that is well deserved,” said cross country coach Greg Thiel. “He’s a very good runner who has shown a lot of potential. This honor is certainly well deserved, and hopefully there will be many more to follow.”
Smith whipped 29 other runners to take the top spot.
The USF cross country teams next compete Saturday at the Bulldog Stampede in Athens, Ga.
Bulls bag ninth
The USF men’s golf team received a blistering final-round performance from newcomer Oscar Fraustro to place ninth at the Cellular One Raising Cane Classic.
The host Southern Miss Golden Eagles swiped first place by 20 strokes, but the real story Tuesday was Fraustro’s third-round 66.
Fraustro’s score tied for the lowest final round and propelled him from a tie for 39th after Monday’s first two rounds to a tie for 11th.
Following identical 300s in Rounds 1 and 2 Monday, Fraustro’s performance Tuesday aided USF as the Bulls shaved 19 strokes off their first two rounds.
Sophomore Brad Quiri came in 29th to be USF’s second highest finisher, and Federico Mautone slipped from a first-round 72 to a final-round 76 to tie for 47th.
The more Fraustro played the Canebrake course, the lower his scores sank. Leading off with a first-round 77, Fraustro fired 72 in Monday’s second round, and then Tuesday’s 66.
Fraustro’s three-round total of 215 placed him five strokes back of Southern Miss’ Michael Soroka, who defeated teammate Justin Emil on the third playoff hole to claim the individual crown.
As a team, USF compiled a two-day aggregate of 881 strokes, 33 shots shy of the Golden Eagles total.