With a new defensive coordinator and a new offensive coordinator, change has come to the USF football team.
Kicking off spring practice Tuesday, new and returning coaches and players got their first glimpse of what to expect as the Bulls lead up to April 11’s spring game.
“It’s a new world. I love it,” said quarterback Matt Grothe. “I feel like for myself, personally it’s going to be different. I love the new style of offense we’ve got going, and I’m looking forward to it.”
USF coach Jim Leavitt welcomes two new coordinators, last years passing game coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Canales will manage the offense and former Cincinnati defensive coordinator Joe Tresey will step in the same role for the Bulls.
“We’re going to stay in the spread offense,” Canales said. “We’re not going to give too many of our ideas away this spring. One thing we will do is try to hide what we’re doing. But we are going to tweak some things and to get our best players the ball more often.”
USF returns five offensive starters from last season, including wide receivers A.J. Love and Jessie Hester Jr.
“We’ve got a lot of guys with experience and that have had a lot of plays in our offense,” Canales said.
Tresey, who will run a base 4-3 defense, inherits six returning defensive starters, including three defensive linemen. Two-time All-American George Selvie highlights all of the Bulls’ returning starters. Selvie said he’s looking forward to working with Tresey.
“(Tresey) keeps telling us to be fast,” he said. “At Cincinnati, he was able to create a lot of turnovers in the secondary. We’re hoping to be able to do that.”
Tresey, who was hired last week, joined the staff Thursday. He said his goal in the first couple weeks is to become more comfortable with the players. However, he said it’s important for the team to understand his philosophy as well.
“We are trying to keep some of the carry over of the language in the defense the same but some things are going to have to switch because I know it better than (the players) know it,” he said. “It’s important for me to be able to get it out of my mind and get it called.”
Tresey’s defenses had success against USF in his two seasons with Cincinnati. The Bearcats forced eight turnovers in a 38-33 win in 2007 and held the Bulls to 10 points last year. Because of that, Canales said he’s been exchanging ideas with Tresey to better the Bulls’ offense.
“Joe and I have spent a lot of time talking about (those games) on the phone,” he said. “Now that he’s here, we can talk about the scouting report on us, and what his thoughts were on preparing to face our offense.”
With the coaching changes on staff, USF is still without a linebacker coach. Leavitt said there is no timetable on when that position will be filled. He said he’s impressed with the coordinators.
“I think they’re great,” he said. “Everybody is learning right now, we’re going. I thought the guys did a great job with their effort, though. I was really surprised we were able to do the things we were able to do tonight.”
USF will practice this week and take next week off for spring break, before returning to practice on March 24.
Lockwood trying to find swing
After a memorable freshmen season full of accolades, USF centerfielder Ryan Lockwood is trying to break through at the plate in 2009.
Though the season is three weeks in, Lockwood has only five hits in his first 38 at bats. And his 32-game hitting streak, dating back to last season, also came to end against Indiana on Feb. 22.
USF coach Lelo Prado gave Lockwood the day off in last Sunday’s 15-9 win over Towson.
“I pulled Lockwood aside (against Towson) and told him you’re going sit back, take a deep breath, and watch a little bit,” Prado said. “Let’s get back to being Lock from last year, from the player that I believe Lock is.”
Last year, Lockwood was second in the Big East with a .415 average. Lockwood hit .454 in Big East games, by far the best in the conference.
Lockwood said he is trying to improve a frustrating start.
“I got sat down,” Lockwood said. “He told me it was a day off but I see it as I wasn’t doing my job. I wasn’t taking care of business on the field. In sports, that’s what happens when you don’t your job. You get sat down.”
Prado moved around Lockwood in the lineup. Most recently he hit from the No. 2 spot in last weekend against Marshall.
Despite the struggles, Lockwood said he plans to stay with his approach.
“You can make small adjustments, but you have to stay with what made you good in the first place,” he said. “If you can’t do that, there’s no way you’re going to get out of it.”