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Beat-up Bulls look to move forward

Published: Monday, October 29, 2012

Updated: Monday, October 29, 2012 22:10

A sixth consecutive loss was a blow to the USF football team, but the injuries that resulted from the team’s 37-36 loss on Saturday night could prove to be worse.

In the process of battling the Syracuse Orange over the weekend, the Bulls may have lost impact players as they move forward and prepare for the Connecticut Huskies this weekend.

“As fortunate as we’ve been from the injury standpoint this season, we were probably just as unfortunate on Saturday night,” coach Skip Holtz said. “...We’ve got at least nine guys on the injury report.”

Though a majority of the injuries occurred on the offensive side of the ball, it did not seem to have an immediate impact as the unit proceeded to account for more than 500 total yards and 36 points.

The most serious was to senior running back Lindsey Lamar, whose clavicle injury could be season-ending.

Holtz said Lamar was released from the hospital after undergoing a non-surgical procedure, but had complications both on his clavicle and internally.

Lamar, who had been leading the resurgent running game for USF, picked up over 100 yards on the ground for the second consecutive game in a row before his injury, and Holtz said the loss of the speedy tailback will affect the team’s offense.

“I hate it,” he said. “He’s really been coming along, been developing every week. It’ll be a blow to us offensively, with the productivity he’s had in the last two weeks, rushing for (255) yards. We’re definitely going to miss that production, and we’re going to have to make it up.”

USF will likely look to running backs junior Marcus Shaw and senior Demetris Murray to carry a larger burden in the team’s running game, which was the potential scenario at the beginning of the season when the coaching staff considered redshirting Lamar.

A week after losing senior offensive lineman Mark Popek to a leg injury, the offensive line took another hit when senior offensive guard Danous Estenor suffered an ankle injury of his own. Popek and Estenor were the only two upperclassmen starting on the offensive line, and two of four upperclassmen listed in the team’s two-deep offensive line depth chart.

Though the Bulls will likely be looking at five underclassmen starting on the offensive line, they will look to keep up their running game against the Huskies, mimicking efforts to run the ball against Syracuse, despite multiple injuries, when they racked up 369 yards on the ground for the game.

Junior wide receiver Derek Hopkins and senior tight end Evan Landi suffered knee and ankle injuries, respectively, as well, and Holtz said the time line for Estenor, Landi and Hopkins is unsure.

“Hopkins with his knee, Estenor with his ankle and Evan Landi with his ankle will all be questionable to doubtful for this week,” he said. “We’ll have to see where they are from a swelling standpoint, and how they respond to treatment over the course of the week. Right now, I don’t think we’re going to have all of them, it’ll be a matter of who we do have.”

Junior running back Bradley Battles could also take a bigger role in spelling Shaw and Murray mid-game. Battles has appeared in four games in 2012, and has one attempt for minus one yard.

The Bulls will look to move forward with a thinning depth chart and potential long-term injuries across the teams’ offense with four games to go in the season.

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