There’s nothing easy about trying to learn a new scheme in 15 spring practices.
With a new offense and defense in spring football, USF coach Skip Holtz acknowledged Monday that his team is still in the early stages of building for the future, especially on offense.
“On offense, we’re still a ways a way,” Holtz said. “… That’s what the spring is. The defense will turn and start to do some things athletically until the offense catches up. The defense will put some new things in … right now, there’s a lot and you can’t learn it on a blackboard and you can’t learn it talking about it. You have to come out here and do it.
For every (offensive) play you put in, there’s about five or six different fronts and then a whole lot of movements you can give to it. We will not be ready to play a football game by the end of spring practice. It’s going to take all of spring. It’s going to take all of summer. And it’s going to take all of fall camp.”
With Holtz and new offensive coordinator Todd Fitch’s arrival, the Bulls’ scheme is not the same as it was during former coach Jim Leavitt’s tenure. Players say that it’s a lot to take in, especially in only 15 practices.
“A lot of it is different,” said sophomore wide receiver Evan Landi, who switched from quarterback last season. “Some of the stuff is the same concepts you’ll see but just the terminology … you have to study a little more and read your playbook at night, as opposed to just knowing something for the last couple of years like we have been (doing).”
Holtz said before the season that he doesn’t want redshirt sophomore quarterback B.J. Daniels to account for the majority of rushing yards, much like he did a season ago. USF will focus more on getting playmakers in the open field, a tactic illustrated by moving sophomore speedster Lindsey Lamar to wide receiver this spring.
Aside from the terminology, though, getting the basics down is the main priority.
“Eventually, you want to find strengths in your personnel,” Fitch said. “We’re just trying to figure out the offense on a daily basis. We’re teaching (them) how to run a power play, how to run a zone play and get all the guys moving in one direction.
“In our offense, it takes a little longer, but that’s not an excuse. It’s the old adage: stop beating yourself first then worry about beating the opponent.”
OL Hermann returns
Senior guard Zach Hermann, who started eight games last season, practiced Monday for the first time in nearly two weeks as he’s struggling with a bulging disc in his neck suffered last season.
“It’s nice to at least see what he can do on the field,” Holtz said. “The thing that was unfortunate was that he got hurt early in this whole process, and we really hadn’t gotten a chance to see what he can do.”
Hermann missed the final four games of last season with the same injury, which lingered into the spring. He practiced until the second day of spring practices with pads, when he tweaked the injury, causing him to sit out until Monday.
Holtz said despite his absence, Hermann should be a mainstay in the offensive line rotation, if healthy.
“Coming out of that first scrimmage, we felt like there were nine linemen we could work with that have a chance to be in the two deep,” Holtz said. “Then, there were about four or five guys that were competing to get into that 10th slot, so to speak. Obviously, Zach’s the natural fit with as much as he’s played, if we can turn and keep him healthy.”