Stage five: season looms large

USF coach Skip Holtz likes to categorize his team’s progress in stages.

Stages one through four consisted of offseason preparations. When the Bulls hit the practice fields today, stage five will be under way.

“Stage four is over, and we are now beginning stage five, which really gets into our season,” Holtz said at a press conference during Sunday’s Fan Fest at Raymond James Stadium. “… Stage four was extremely successful for us. I thought Vero Beach was a great stop. It was really a zero-distraction mentality where we’d wake up, walk to breakfast, walk into meetings, walk out the back door for walk-throughs. It was very convenient.”

The Bulls spent two weeks in Vero, returned home on Thursday and scrimmaged Saturday. The team had 18 straight days of practice before a day off Monday, the first day of fall classes.

But the Bulls return to the field today, just 11 days before the season opener against Stony Brook.

“I think we’re going to need the next two weeks of polish to turn and get this football team where we need to be,” Holtz said.

If the scrimmage Saturday is any indication, the offense has improved since from the start of camp. Quarterback B.J. Daniels, who was just 7-of-22 passing in the first scrimmage, found better rhythm with receivers.

“We were able to stay with the chains and convert first downs and stay on the field,” Offensive Coordinator Todd Fitch said. “I thought there was a little more communication and a better awareness of where everybody was.”

Holtz plans to release a final fall depth chart this week, as many positions are still being decided.

Miller on scholarship

Junior RB Joel Miller, a former walk-on, has been put on scholarship, Holtz announced Sunday.

Miller, who the coaching staff switched from running back to slot receiver last week, has had a good fall camp and is expected to contribute a lot this year.

“He’s earned it. He’s deserving,” Holtz said. “I met with him after practice (Sunday) to see the weight go off his shoulders because I know he’s worked really hard for this day.”

Miller, who played primarily on special teams last year, was the player at the center of the alleged incident that led to Jim Leavitt’s dismissal in January.

OL Garvin leaves team

Holtz said sophomore OL Josh Garvin has left the team, dealing with personal issues that have kept him out of fall camp.

“We wish him nothing but the best,” Holtz said. “This was not a football decision. This was a personal issue he had to make for himself.”

Garvin was third on the depth chart at offensive tackle following spring practices.

Men’s soccer wins exhibition

USF beat the University of Tampa 3-0 in an exhibition Friday in front of just under 1,000 fans at USF Soccer Stadium.

Redshirt junior midfielder Bernardo Anor led the way with a goal and an assist, while sophomore forward Hasani Sinclair and senior F/D Andre Mittoo added goals.

The Bulls, ranked No. 13 in the preseason poll by College Soccer News, will host No. 1 Akron in their third and final exhibition Saturday at 7:30 p.m.

USF tied Jacksonville 0-0 in its first exhibition Aug. 18.

Women’s soccer starts strong

USF beat North Florida 4-0 in its home opener Friday. Juniors Chelsea Klotz, Noelle Pineiro and Venicia Reid and freshman Sharla Passariello scored goals. The Bulls play at Murray State on Friday.