USF sophomore defensive end Aaron Lynch made his first game-changing play of the season Oct. 12, but coach Willie Taggart said the Notre Dame transfer has yet to reach his potential as a player.
Lynch scooped up a fumble and returned it for a 44-yard touchdown, USF’s only score in the 13-10 win against UConn. Later, he recorded his first sack as a Bull, but Taggart said Lynch and the Bulls still have a long way to go.
“It’s on Aaron and how he plays within the system,” he said. “He’s not anywhere near where he needs to be, but we’re by no means where we need to be either.”
While Taggart mentioned the unrealized potential for Lynch and the team, defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said he has been happy with the progress so far and sees a possible springboard for Lynch to be a consistent playmaker.
“Any big play can be big for confidence,” Bresnahan said. “Lynch has had five or six missed sacks for various reasons. Either playing too high, being out of control, but things are coming together for him in understanding what we want him to do.”
Bresnahan said Lynch is playing more physical and disciplined, and his technique is “so much better now than when we started.”
Another player who has risen to prominence in recent weeks, Bresnahan said, is freshman safety Nate Godwin.
“I like to look at it from a unit standpoint,” he said. “Nate understands where he’s supposed to be. Mark Joyce does a great job helping him with checks and adjustments.”
Bresnahan said there’s a bit of a comfort zone on the field now and he was pleased with USF’s adjustments in the second half against UConn after being gashed for over 130 rushing yards in the
On the offensive side of the ball, running back Darius Tice is another freshman who made an impact last week. Offensive coordinator Walt Wells said Tice still had to adapt to the college game.
It appears he did, as the Bulls used Tice heavily on the game-winning drive. Wells said Tice showed he was ready for the pressure situation throughout the game, by picked up blitzes and didn’t show a problem with ball security.
The use of Tice, sophomore Willie Davis and junior Michael Pierre as a three-headed rushing attack proved USF has three or four running backs who can get the job done, even when Marcus Shaw returns.
“We’re also learning some run plays work better for different players,” he said. “And it provides depth when Marcus gets back.”
Wells commended Davis’ journey since Taggart and Wells took over the USF offense.
“Willie has grown up a bit,” he said. “He showed flashes in summer. On the scout team, he taught guys how to practice. Last week, we thought Willie might be ‘the guy’ with Shaw down.”
USF prepares for its Homecoming game on Oct. 26 against No. 8 Louisville.