As the Oakland Raiders’ season spirals out of control, the Silver and Black’s downfall has been good for one former USF Bull. On Wednesday, Oakland, which has lost five straight games, signed linebacker Shurron Pierson to its active roster from the team’s practice squad. The space on the Raiders’ 53-man roster was vacant when quarterback Rich Gannon and center Matt Stinchcomb went on the injured reserve, ending both of their seasons. Gannon suffered a torn labrum to his throwing shoulder. Stinchcomb is also out with a shoulder injury.
For Pierson, the first USF player to leave school early for the NFL Draft, the Raiders’ misfortune comes as a blessing. Oakland’s fourth-round pick (129th overall), Pierson became a roster cut prior to the team’s first game on Sept. 1. But the next day, Pierson rejoined the Raiders as a practice squad member.
Pierson could see action at strongside linebacker, where the team has just backup Travian Smith on the depth chart. For the Bulls, Pierson was a disruptive force as a defensive end. In two seasons at USF, the 21-year-old from Wildwood established school records for sacks in a season (10) and a career (18). His four sacks in a game against Southern Miss a year ago is also a USF record.
Tennesse Tech to be ’04 opener
The USF football team announced Thursday a Sept. 4 game against Tennessee Tech as its opener for the 2004 season. The game completes the team’s non-conference schedule for next season. USF will also travel to South Carolina and host future Big East rival Pittsburgh next year.
Because Tennessee Tech meets minimum scholarship requirements, USF would earn a win towards bowl eligibility with a win over the Division I-AA foe. This year, USF’s post-season status was jeopardized because wins over Division I-AA teams Nicholls State and Charleston Southern did not count towards bowl eligibility.
USF (6-3, 4-2) needs to win its final two games against UAB and at Memphis to have a shot at earning its first bowl berth. The team finished 9-2 and was bowl eligible in 2002, but no bowl committee selected the team.
Bulls open 03-04 season
With just one week remaining until the USF men’s basketball team’s season opener, the Bulls still need to make improvements to satisfy new coach Robert McCullum.
“It is not going as smoothly as I anticipated,” McCullum said. “I had hoped we would be further along than where we are.”
Heading into USF’s only preseason exhibition tonight at 7 against Saint Leo at the Sun Dome, the Bulls will try to rectify any mistakes they’ve been making during preseason practices.
“It’s (a) game to find out where we are offensively and defensively,” junior Brian Swift said. “There’s not one area that we’re going to focus on. We’re going to focus on everything. We’re going to go hard like it is a real game.”
The Bulls open the regular season Nov. 21 at home against Florida Atlantic.
Injuries limit USF
The USF women’s basketball team faces injury issues going into its final exhibition game Sunday against Miami Sun AAU at the Sun Dome.
Forward Ezra Parsons will be out, and point guard Melissa Tape and forward Nalini Miller will see limited playing time. The diminished roster may hamper USF coach Jose Fernandez’s attempt to establish his rotation before the season opener at Wagner Nov. 21, but he said the game should offer a good look at some of his other players.
“Melissa and Nalini will start the game, but neither of them will play too much,” Fernandez said. “Rae Rae Sayles, Jessica Dickson and Andrea Armstrong will also start, and Anedra Gilmore, Sarah Lochmann and Alana Tanksley will be the first three off the bench. We have a rotation set to go, and hopefully we will be ready to go with a rotation of our top eight or nine next week when the season opens.”
Fernandez said the injuries won’t affect his strategy of rapid substitutions.
“(The substitutions) are still going to be important,” he said. “We’ve had a smaller, quicker line-up in the past, but now its going to be important to give (Miller, Lochmann and Armstrong) down low a chance to stay fresh. I don’t think it changes too much beyond, obviously, the fact that health is important to any team.”
Three soccer players honored
Hunter West dropped from his fabulous freshman season this year, but the USF men’s soccer team picked up another touted newcomer. A first-team All-Conference selection in 2002, West scored 14 goals, but his production was cut in half this season.
However, he was still nominated to the All-Conference USA third team, joined by freshman Keeron Benito. The midfielder from Trinidad finished second on the team in goals behind West with four and also trailed him in shots on goal with 16.
Benito wasn’t alone in making an impact in his first season as fellow freshman, defender Kareem Smith, matched Benito by making C-USA’s All-Freshmen team. The 18-year-old from Hyde Park, Mass., started all 17 matches in the regular season, tallying two goals.
Compiled by Adam Becker, Bryan Fazio and Anthony Gagliano