With preseason practices and the majority of individual position battles completed, the USF football team has released its first two-deep depth chart of the 2012 football season, just before its season-opening game against the University of Tennessee Chattanooga.
Seven different offensive positions have multiple players listed in a single depth chart spot, showing depth across the roster. So much so, in fact, that coach Skip Holtz joked that he may have an issue on his hands.
When you dont have depth, its an issue, and you sit in there and scratch your head worried, like Wow, whos gonna be No. 2?, Holtz said. And when you have a lot of depth, you scratch your head and say the same thing: who do you choose from?
While a number of players have kept their positions, several other spots have seen an overhaul from the 2011 season, when theteam went 5-7 and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2004.
On offense, redshirt freshman tackle Max Lang made the biggest move, impressing Holtz and the rest of the USF coaching staff while the incumbent starter, sophomore Quinterrius Q Eatmon, has missed time with concussion symptoms. Langs play has earned him the starting role at right tackle for Saturdays match-up against the Mocs.
Q hasnt played, and right now Max is playing really well. When Q comes back theyll have a heck of a competition, and I would imagine theyll both play (Saturday) if healthy, Holtz said. When a guy is injured and another guy comes in and starts playing well, he kind of earns squatters rights. He wont give it up easily, and Q will work his tail off to get it back, and thats a great situation to have as a football team.
Lang said he appreciates the opportunity, but he is willing to contribute in any capacity he can.
I just want to do whatever Ineed to do to help the team, you know, he said. Backup, starter, guard, center Im ready to do whatever I need to do to help this team.
Along with Lang, another relatively new face has made an impression with his play in camp. Speedster Derrick Hopkins, a junior wide receiver who has made appearances in sevencareer games, has jumped over both Victor Marc and Deonte Welch in the starting lineup.
Holtz said he likes the improvement he saw from the Miami native.
Derrick is extremely explosive, but the problem the last couple of years for him was catching the ball, Holtz said. Hes probably had one of the best camps this year, and he knows what hes doing. Attitude and effort, those two words constantly come up that were looking for.
Hopkins said he worked hard to put himself into a better position, but said his work on the practice field is not complete, especially in terms of his catching ability.
It was a big concern withme these past couple of years. I worked really hard to buckle down during the offseason and get better at it, Hopkins said. Its nice to see my name as a starter, but Im still a long way from where I want to be, and this group of receivers is far away from where we want to be.
Elsewhere on offense, both the running backs and backup quarterbacks will be taking a position-by-committee approach, with senior Demetris Murray and junior Marcus Shaw at running back and redshirt freshman Matt Floyd and junior Bobby Eveld as backup quarterbacks.
Right now, its hard to rotate more than two backs, so Demetrius Murray and Marcus Shaw are the top two, and they have both played really well, Holtz said. Thats not reflective of Lindsey Lamar hes also played really well, but I think hes a little less polished after two years at receiver.
As for his problem of twoquality backup quarterbacks, Holtz said he has decided not to select a single backup, allowing both Eveld and Floyd to continue competing.
Right now, Id almost say committee, he said. If something were to happen to B.J., I would go with whoever had the best week.
On the opposite side of the ball, a familiar group of faces remains at linebacker, with seniors Mike Lanaris and Sam Barrington and junior DeDe Lattimore listed as starters.
The newest starter on defense is fifth-year senior George Baker, who started two games prior to 2012, and said he is honored to be in the starting eleven for Sat- urday.
I feel like Ive been focusing more in the filming room, going out on the field and making the plays that help the team win, Baker said. It feels great, I give all the thanks and glory to the man above … Im ready to finally get out on the field and make plays for my team.