Final scrimmage before gameday for USF

By Sam Newlon, Sports Editor
On August 22, 2018

Blake Barnett looks for a receiver in fall camp. He’s in a three-way race to be USF’s next starting quarterback. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE/GOUSFBULLS

This time next week coach Charlie Strong and the Bulls will be in the final stages of preparing for their season opener against Elon at Raymond James Stadium. Today, the football team played its final scrimmage of fall camp.

One of the biggest questions entering the Bulls’ season — who will play quarterback — was left unanswered, but Strong offered some insight about key factors on offense after the scrimmage.

Strong opened his media availability with a joke, saying he felt the team was at about 20 percent right now, which he later cleared up.

“We’re further along than that,” Strong said. “It’s hard to put a number on that because some days we come out here and practice very well and then some days we come out and you would think we’ve never taught any fundamentals in technique.”

Strong didn’t call out any players who were underperforming, but did clarify the status of Tight End Mitchell Wilcox, who has been suffering from an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Wilcox has spent the last few practices without pads, but recently was seen wearing pads in a non-contact jersey toward the end of practice earlier this week. Last season, Wilcox recorded 17 catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns.

“Wilcox is ready to go,” Strong said. “He could have played today.”

Strong also thinks Wilcox could play an important role for the offense this year, regardless of who is playing quarterback.

“He can be a mismatch whether it be a linebacker or a safety,” Strong said. “He can catch the football and he can run well enough to she can get open. He can body-up guys. He’s going to be a big threat for us.”

Strong also noted the depth the team has at wide receiver.

“If you look at our receivers, you can go (Tyre) McCants, you can go (Darnell) Salomon, you can go Ryeshene (Bronson) or Stanley (Clerveaux),” he said. “We have enough bodies at wide receiver. We have guys that can catch the ball and run with it because you always look for YAC (yards-after-catch) yardage and that’s what they can do.”

Another position Strong mentioned was the running backs. Last season, D’Ernest Johnson and Darius Tice took turns rushing. With the depth at running back again this season, the Bulls could feature a multiple-back system again.

“With the running backs we have, you have a bunch of guys that are sitting there who are really good players,” Strong said. “We can just rotate them in there...you have a lot of options there.”

In the last week of preseason practice, Strong is looking to hone in on other key areas.

“Whatever happens in practice will carry over to the game so we have to get better,” he said. “I have still not made a decision on the quarterback, but there’s still some positions up for grabs and we still have enough time where we can get it fixed before the first game.”

 

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