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Depth chart remains unclear as spring practice concludes

Published: Monday, April 23, 2012

Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 00:04

ORACLE PHOTO/TONY GORDON

ORACLE PHOTO/TONY GORDON

Marcus Shaw impressed in Saturday’s Spring Game as he fights to earn the backup running back position. Offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said Shaw has become a more physical back and less of a “dancer” in the backfield this spring.

As the USF football team wrapped up its spring practice season with Saturday’s Spring Game at Raymond James Stadium, many of the questions the team faced entering camp remain unanswered.

Matt Floyd and Bobby Eveld will continue their competition for backup quarterback, Marcus Shaw and Lindsey Lamar remain even in the race to lock up the position of No. 2 running back and the title of second cornerback, opposite Kayvon Webster, remains unfilled with a very close battle taking place.

Coach Skip Holtz said Saturday’s scrimmage would be primarily about finding solutions to those questions, with the projected starters playing less snaps than those in battles further down the depth chart.

Floyd and Eveld remain nearly even after the spring, with Floyd looking the better quarterback in the first scrimmage, Eveld excelling in the second and both quarterbacks playing well in the Spring Game.

Floyd went 15-for-27 for 163 yards and one interception Saturday, while Eveld went 12-for-20 for 135 yards and one touchdown. Neither is expected to provide a serious challenge to fifth-year senior B.J. Daniels in the team’s summer training camp, but the competition for backup remains stiff.

“I was really encouraged with what I saw on a couple of plays,” Holtz said. “I was really encouraged with the way Matt Floyd took some shots and delivered the ball and threw some strikes. I think there’s a great battle going on and that battle will probably go until the week of the first game.”

Before Darrell Scott opted to enter the NFL Draft earlier in the offseason, the position of running back was set with the top two backs from last season, Scott and Demetris Murray, set to split carries again.

Instead, Murray will lead the corps with speedsters Shaw and Lamar competing for repetitions. Bradley Battles and Willie Davis provide a more physical option, but both lack game experience and will not likely be relied on too much.

Shaw had 14 carries for 73 yards and two touchdowns in the final scrimmage, with Lamar running the ball nine times for 25 yards.

“I think it’s a heck of a battle,” offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. “(Shaw) has an explosive step to him. He sees the seam and he has the ability to hit it. Both he and Lindsey possess that. He’s gotten more physical as a runner. He used to be more of a dancer and a bounce guy, but he’s learned that the hard way sometimes. He’s been pretty consistent with lowering his pads.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the competition for cornerback remains open with junior college transfer Joshua Brown and redshirt freshman Kenneth Durden looking like the leaders, though Fidel Montgomery and Chris Bivins Jr., who missed the spring with a torn ACL, are also in the competition.

Brown had two pass breakups and caught an interception on the final play of the game, while Durden had five tackles and broke up three passes.

Most importantly, the Bulls ended spring practice without any further injuries. Only Anthony Hill (torn ACL) and Cory Grissom (fractured fibula) sustained major injuries in the duration of the spring.

“We just really wanted to see everybody stay healthy and just come out here and compete,” Holtz said. “The scrimmage probably went about the way I thought it would. Offensively, we had a big scrimmage last week, but our defense is proud, so they came out here with their ears pinned back. … Defensively, overall, I think we did a lot better.”

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