Just as the No. 16 USF football team was starting to return players from injuries, it was hit with another crushing blow.
They lost senior safety Danny Verpaele, who starts when the Bulls use a nickel — a five defensive back set — for the remainder of the regular season with a broken foot.
He is scheduled to have surgery to repair the same injury that sidelined him for the 2005 season on Thursday.
Meanwhile, the Bulls had starters Brouce Mompremier (linebacker), George Selvie (defensive end) and Terrell McClain (defensive tackle) in the starting lineup for the first time in more than a month for Saturday’s 45-13 win against Syracuse.
Defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said the Bulls will miss Verpaele, but it won’t affect their game plan for Saturday’s upcoming game against Louisville.
“It’s not going to affect how we do it, it’s just the fact that he’s not there,” he said. “Losing him hurts because he’s been around a while and he knows the defense, so that’s how it’s going to affect us.”
Burnham said senior cornerback Tyller Roberts and senior safeties Carlton Williams and Louis Gachette will be rotating snaps at the nickel back position.
“To the team, and especially to the DB’s, it hurts to lose Danny because he’s just like a coach on the field,” Gachette said. “He’s been here with me for five years and he’s like a brother, so we want to go out there and win for him.”
Gachette said the Bulls are going to try and rally around Verpaele the way they did when Mompremier injured his neck against Florida International on Sept. 20.
“We’ll definitely rally around Danny because he’s like one of our brothers,” he said. “We’ll try to step up for him.”