You would be hard pressed to find a more anticipated season in USF’s 14-year history than 2010.
After a grueling fall camp, the season opener is less than a week away, and players say they notice an extra bit of enthusiasm compared to past seasons.
“Guys in class are like, ‘How’s the new coach, how’s the team looking?'” offensive lineman Jeremiah Warren said Sunday after the team’s practice was rained out. “They’re all inquisitive about stuff. I’ve heard nothing but good buzz lately.”
USF coach Skip Holtz is in the center of the excitement, and even he can’t hide how excited he is about the first game, which is against Stony Brook on Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.
“You could tell when you walk into that team meeting (last night). It’s real loud,” Holtz said. “It’s been eight months waiting.”
Holtz even admitted he was nervous after Saturday’s scrimmage, but that’s a good thing, he said.
It’s now about getting mentally prepared.
“We really have to stay sharp, stay focused,” Holtz said. “This is the week you polish the edges. It’s not enough to say, ‘Oh, I know what to do,’ but now the biggest thing is how do I do it. We really need to polish up some things right now.”
Plancher returns to action, expected to play in opener
Senior running back Mo Plancher, who has been limited with a sore shoulder since the team returned from Vero Beach, saw time in the backfield during Saturday’s scrimmage and is expected to play in the opener, Holtz said.
Plancher, who was granted a sixth-year of eligibility in the offseason, is battling sophomore Demitris Murray and redshirt freshman Bradley Battles in the backfield.
“I felt like it was important that he gets in there and gets some work,” Holtz said. “I don’t want the first time he gets hit to be from two weeks off with a shoulder injury.”
Holtz said Sunday there were no major injuries in Saturday’s scrimmage.
Bogan to play receiver only, for now
Holtz said senior receiver Dontavia Bogan has been knocking at his door every day in hopes of remaining the primary kick returner this season.
Bogan, who was the team’s third leading receiver last year, won’t be returning kicks, however, because Holtz doesn’t want to risk him getting injured and further depleting USF’s stretched-thin receiving core.
“I met with him the other day and talked about it. I know he really wants to do it,” said Holtz, who also acknowledged Bogan is close to the school’s all-time return yards record. “I just told him, right now, with where we are from a depth standpoint (at receiver), (Bogan returning kicks) scares me.”
Holtz said once senior receiver A.J. Love and sophomore receiver Sterling Griffin return from injury (Love expected back mid-to-late October, Griffin early to mid-October), he would reconsider.
Sophomore cornerback Kayvon Webster, freshman cornerback Terrence Mitchell and sophomore wide receiver Lindsey Lamar are among the candidates to return kicks this year.