In preparation for Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, USF has worked extensively on fine-tuning the passing game, coach Skip Holtz said.
To find consistency, Holtz said, he and his offensive staff used the bye week to add a “couple wrinkles” to the playbook
“There were some things in the passing game we felt like we needed to work on,” Holtz said. “(Offensive Coordinator Todd) Fitch has done a great job in trying to limit the package. I think with Florida playing all the man coverage that they did, there were probably a couple other things we could’ve utilized or schematic things we could have done to give our players maybe a little bit better opportunity.”
The receiving corps, however, may go without senior receiver Dontavia Bogan, who’s nursing an ankle injury and hasn’t practiced in two weeks.
If Bogan is unable to play against the Hilltoppers, true freshman Stephen Bravo-Brown will replace him as a starter, Fitch said.
Fitch said the team won’t adjust its strategy if Bogan can’t play.
“It’s not going to limit anything we do going into this game,” he said. “If we get in the flow of the game and something’s not working or the matchup isn’t good, obviously, we’ll adjust. In terms of our throw game and our third-down packages, we’re not going to say, ‘We can’t throw that one because Bogan’s not in this week.'”
Important week for youth
Holtz said he’s starting to get a feel for what the younger players on his roster can contribute for the rest of the season.
The extra practice during the bye was beneficial to the team’s youth because the more reps they get, the better off they will be when conference play begins, Holtz said.
“When you as coaches, when you decide to play a young player, you put him in and say, ‘Boy if we can start to get him some reps and work him in early, he’s got a chance to be a pretty good player by the time we get to the conference (portion of the schedule),” Holtz said. “And (with) a lot of these young players, I thought last week was really productive, and I know from my standpoint, and a lot of the assistant coaches’ standpoints, it starts to give you a little more confidence to put him in there in a game-type atmosphere and to put them in a little bit more of a bigger role.”
Holtz singled out a few players Tuesday that have started to make strides at their positions: receivers Stephen Bravo-Brown, Isaac Virgin and Faron Hornes, tight end Andreas Shields, defensive end Ryne Giddins, linebackers Sam Barrington, Mike Lanaris and DeDe Lattimore and defensive backs Mark Joyce and Terrence Mitchell.
Defensive Coordinator Mark Snyder said Barrington, who led the team with eight tackles against Florida and will start Saturday, has been a pleasant surprise. “Sam impressed me with his toughness last week,” he said Tuesday … Bogan, who missed Tuesday’s practice, continues to wear a boot on his right ankle … Former Tampa Bay DT Chris Hovan, who was released by the Bucs in April and is now with the St. Louis Rams, spoke to USF players after practice.