Senior Brian Fisher, who played primarily at running back and led all rushers with 95 yards on 14 carries, scored on his team’s first play from scrimmage with a 40-yard fake reverse touchdown run in Saturday’s spring game at Raymond James Stadium to lead the Green team, which also included sophomore quarterback Pat Julmiste and senior safety Javan Camon, to a 10-6 win against the White team.
“A win is a win so we’re happy,” quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator and Saturday’s head coach of the Green team Rod Smith said. “But we’ve got a long way to go.”
The coaches were quick to downplay the particulars of a game that dragged along with 23 total punts and 11 sacks. The coaches’ comments, instead, focused on the spring as a whole.
“For the overall spring I feel good,” Smith said. “But we’re not where we want to be. Not yet.”
Julmiste, who was named USF’s starting quarterback earlier this spring, completed just 4 of 16 passes for 40 yards and one interception.
“He’s had a good spring,” Smith said. “I don’t want this (game) to be the thing that defines this upcoming season.”
“This spring I felt like I took a couple steps forward,” Julmiste said. “I feel like I got a little experience under my belt from last season, so I feel motivated and confident (going) into (the fall) season.
“I’d say (I did) below average (Saturday). I’m kind of hard on myself because I want to improve each day.”
Both offenses struggled to move the ball in the game that was dominated by defense.
“We’ve made some progress (this spring), and we’ve gotten a tougher mental attitude about playing football,” co-defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. “I think you could see it in some of the hits out there today.”
Freshman defensive back A.J. Brant set the defensive tone early when he intercepted quarterback Evan Kraky, who finished 4 of 14 for 15 yards, on third down of the White team’s opening possession, leading to Fisher’s touchdown run.
“I wasn’t so much looking at the mistakes,” Leavitt said. “I was looking at the good plays. The guys running with the ball; the effort, I thought was very good. (I) saw a couple (of) pretty good catches, a great run by Brian Fisher at the beginning and he had another nice run at the end, and Stephen Nicholas made a big interception at the end. I see good things. I don’t see all the mistakes. There weren’t that many penalties, really. So I saw good things.”
The White team’s only score came in the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Ronnie Banks connected with senior wide receiver Allynson Sheffield in the end zone for a 14-yard score with 11:50 left in the game. Banks completed all four of his passes for 61 yards on the drive.
But senior kicker Santiago Gramatica missed the extra point, meaning the White team needed a touchdown at the end of the game to tie.
Though the White team got the ball back for one final drive, sophomore linebacker Stephen Nicholas intercepted Banks, allowing the Green team to run out the clock.
Banks was the top-passing quarterback on the day, completing 9 of 18 passes for 93 yards.
Junior punter Brandon Baker punted 12 times for a 42.7-yard average, including a 62-yarder that was downed at the 3-yard line on his first punt of the day.
EXTRA NOTES: Sophomore wide receiver S.J. Green had two receptions for 23 yards and junior Joe Bain added two receptions for 17 yards to lead the Green team. … Senior defensive end Time Jones and senior defensive lineman Craig Kobel each had two sacks for the Green team. … Sheffield had a game-high five catches for 50 yards, while senior Bruce Gipson, who Leavitt said will play both ways this fall, had four catches for 49 yards to lead the White team. … Redshirt freshman defensive back A.J. Brant and sophomore linebacker Stephen Nicholas each had five tackles for the Green team. … Senior defensive back Kenny Robinson and redshirt freshman linebackers Josh Balloon and Ronnie McCullough each had five tackles for the White team. McCullough also had an interception.
CAPTAINS: Senior offensive linemen Alex Herron and Derrick Sarosi, senior defensive tackle Lee Roy Selmon Jr. and senior safety Javan Camon were voted captains by their teammates for the 2004 season.
Oracle Sports Editor Adam Adkins contributed to this report