Though spring football practice usually culminates with the annual spring game — which USF held Saturday at Raymond James Stadium — the USF football team held its final workout Tuesday, ending the 15-practice spring schedule.
USF coach Jim Leavitt decided to make up one of the scheduled workouts canceled earlier this spring and was pleased overall with his team’s performance Tuesday.
“Considering after the spring game, coming back like this, they were attentive, we got some good work in,” Leavitt said. “I was just very impressed with the way they practiced. They were focused, had a serious demeanor, they weren’t goofing around out there. I know we didn’t go full pads or anything, but it really was a worthwhile practice. It really went well. I thought we’d have to beat on them a little bit more.”
Leavitt praised several players for their efforts this spring, including projected starting safety Javan Camon. Along with Camon, Leavitt said redshirt freshman defensive back A.J. Brant, (junior college transfer) junior defensive lineman Antonio Searcy, sophomore linebacker Stephen Nicholas, junior tight ends Mike Ruegger and Derrick Carter and redshirt freshman wide receiver J.B. Garris all stood out this spring.
But there was one player Leavitt was surprised with.
“The guy that made more of a move than I thought he would was (freshman quarterback) Evan Kraky. He had a better spring than we thought he would. Of all the quarterbacks, he probably came along (the most),” Leavitt said.
Kraky missed all of last season recovering from an ankle injury. Kraky worked primarily with the second team in the spring, but late in spring practices Leavitt said Kraky had moved into position to challenge senior Ronnie Banks for the backup quarterback position behind sophomore Pat Julmiste, who Leavitt named the starter early in spring workouts.
“We’ll just see what happens in the fall. We’re going to go in with Pat as No. 1, and Ronnie and Kraky battling for the No. 2 spot, and we’re going to see what our young guy (incoming freshman Louis Gachette of Immokalee) can do.”
All three quarterbacks struggled Saturday during USF’s spring game, which resulted in the Green team’s 10-6 victory against the White team. And after having a chance to review film, Leavitt didn’t say the quarterbacks looked any better.
“I didn’t think they played that particularly good. There’s no real excuse,” Leavitt said. “Ronnie Banks had a real nice series in there. Pat did some real good things, a couple of receivers dropped some of his balls, but he was pretty average.”
Leavitt did reiterate that both teams’ offense lacked continuity. The entire team was divided through a draft to determine which players would play on which team during the spring game, meaning the starters on both offense and defense were split up.
NOT SO FAST: The Bulls open up the 2004 season at home against Pittsburgh, but the date of that game now seems up in the air.
USF is considering moving the 2004 home opener, scheduled now for Sept. 4, to Labor Day, Monday Sept. 6. The game would then be televised by ESPN and start around 4 p.m.
“I think it’s 50-50 right now,” USF associate athletic director Tom Veit told The Tampa Tribune. “It’s a national television game and would be a lead in for the Miami-Florida State game [on ABC Monday night]. There are a lot of positives and we would probably be inclined to do it.”
The Bulls were originally scheduled to open the 2004 season against Tennessee Tech. However, in February, USF accommodated Pittsburgh by moving the game to Sept. 4 at the request of the Big East Conference, and the game against Tennessee Tech was moved back one week to Sept. 11.
USF plays the 2004 season as a member of Conference USA and joins the Big East in 2005.