Even by coach Jim Leavitt’s high standards, the USF football team enjoyed a productive spring. Following the Bulls’ Spring Game Saturday at Raymond James Stadium, Leavitt could hardly contain his excitement at how the day had gone.
“I was very happy with how everything went today,” Leavitt said. “I did not see anything that I was disappointed with, other than our kicking.”
Leavitt handed over the reins to his assistants and paced the sidelines as the White team defeated the Green team 14-7 in front of roughly 4,000 spectators.
“I almost lapped the stadium today eight times because I’m so hyper,” Leavitt said. “It’s fun to watch, but I enjoy the fall a lot better when I’m right in the middle of things.”
After a scoreless first half in which both teams combined for 13 punts, the offensive units picked up the pace after halftime.
Quarterback Marquel Blackwell found Cedric King for a 42-yard gain for the White team late in the third quarter, and two plays later Blackwell opened the scoring with a 46-yard touchdown strike to a wide open Willie Williams. Adam Gold missed the extra point, and the score remained 6-0.
After going 16-of-32 for 285 yards with one interception and the touchdown, Blackwell exited in the fourth quarter, giving David Mullins and Ronnie Banks the chance to stake their claim for No. 2 quarterback in the fall.
Mullins stretched the lead for the White when he found Williams streaking down the right sideline for a 49-yard touchdown pass, and Mullins made the score 14-0 by powering in for the two-point conversion.
Banks got one back for the Green, connecting with Chris Iskra for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Scott Hastings’ extra point was good, and that was it for scoring.
The final statistics of the potential No. 2 QBs: Mullins 5-of-12 for 58 yards and one touchdown; Banks 14-of-27 for 135 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“You would like to have a guy who can run and throw, but if you get a guy to do one or the other, I’d much rather have a guy who can throw and at least deliver the ball, and (Banks) can certainly do that. He has a big-time arm,” Leavitt said.
“I was very impressed with the youngster, with Mullins, coming in there. I think everybody saw what he can do, too. He can run, he’s tough, and he threw some good balls. So those three guys are the guys who we’re going to focus on, and we’ve got to have three quarterbacks.”
Mullins admitted that Banks has the edge because he has more game-time experience, but he said he likes his chances of backing up Blackwell in the fall.
“I like it. That’s one of the main reasons why I came here,” Mullins said. “It’s all up to me. It’s up to no one else but me. That’s the good thing about the position. So if I make things happen, then I’ll be the backup. There’s no big difference between me and Ronnie right now.”
The defense, benefiting from the first three quarters in which quarterbacks were down by contact, posted nine sacks, including four by the Green’s Shurron Pierson, who set a single-season USF record last year with 10 sacks.
Leavitt named Blackwell, receiver Ryan Hearn, defensive end Chris Daley and linebacker Kawika Mitchell as the captains for the 2002 season.
Contact Khari Williams at email@example.com