More than 250 spectators – most of whom were family members of players or potential recruits – were on hand Saturday to watch the South Florida football team participate in its first scrimmage of the spring.
The Bulls’ first three units split time for about 90 plays. The defensive units looked strong, but their success pointed out several flaws in the USF offense.
“The defense was good,” coach Jim Leavitt said. “That’s not good for the offense.”
The Bulls’ defense forced a total of five turnovers, and the first-team defense blocked two Delbert Alvarado field goals.
Both junior cornerback Jerome Murphy and senior safety Carlton Williams intercepted quarterback Matt Grothe, and sophomores Sabbath Joseph (linebacker) and Dylan Douglas (cornerback) intercepted third-string quarterback Alton Voss.
Running back Mike Ford fumbled deep in the defense’s territory, and senior linebacker Brouce Mompremier recovered the ball and lateraled to a teammate who returned it for a touchdown.
“That’s one thing we’re always stressing is turnovers,” defensive coordinator Wally Burnham said. “The only real negative I saw today was that we gave up too many long passes.”
One such pass came on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Grant Gregory to sophomore Dontavia Bogan. On the day, Gregory was 12-of-14 for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Grothe was 10-of-15 for 137 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. Voss was 1-of-3 for 22 yards and two interceptions.
“I didn’t think we made real good decisions at quarterback. Those turnovers didn’t have to happen,” Leavitt said. “I’d have to say that Grant played better than Matt today. I don’t think there’s any question.”
The defense answered one big question – at least temporarily. Mompremier was the team’s starting middle linebacker, filling the void left by Ben Moffitt.
“I know how to play both middle and (outside) linebacker, so I don’t have a preference as long as I’m out there helping the team,” Mompremier said. “I know that I’ve got a big, big mountain to climb just to get to his level, but I’ll have a lot of help around me.”
Mompremier still remains in competition for the spot with senior Tyrone McKenzie and junior Kion Wilson – who did not participate on Saturday because of an ankle injury.
“Next week I’m going to put (McKenzie) in the middle and Brouce back outside,” Burnham said. “I’m just trying to find the best combination for us out there.”
Saturday’s scrimmage had only one player leave with a serious injury. Junior tight end Ben Busbee suffered a broken bone in his right hand.
Senior defensive end Jarriett Buie was not at the scrimmage. Leavitt said that Buie’s absence was a coach’s decision.
Another area that posed a concern for the Bulls was the kicking game. Alvarado was 2-for-4 on extra points and 1-for-4 on field goal attempts – two of which were blocked.
Senior Justin Teachey was 3-for-3 on his attempts.
“The thing I was most disappointed in was our field goal and extra point team,” Leavitt said. “I didn’t think Delbert Alvarado was kicking very good today, and he’s better than that. I know that. I was happy with our snaps, our holds. We just didn’t kick good. Teachey came in and didn’t miss, so Justin Teachey did a good job.”
The Bulls will look to correct their offensive woes when they return to practice Tuesday.