Matchup: Experienced lines collide
USF offensive coordinator Todd Fitch can find comfort in his experienced offensive line – one that could be ideal for going into a hostile environment and neutralizing a talented defensive front.
“I think it’s a very cohesive unit,” Fitch said. “It has a lot of game savvy. Fortunately, these guys have a lot of experience in assignment mentality, so it won’t be foreign to them.”
The most experienced unit of the team with five starters – three seniors and two juniors – all returning from a year ago is the good news.
The bad news is the unknown of playing the Florida defensive line, which could be the best the Bulls will face all year, said USF coach Skip Holtz.
“Our offensive line right now, the thing we got going for us is we’ve got a lot of guys that played last year,” Holtz said. “We don’t have a guy on our football team that has played Florida. We don’t have a guy on our football team that has lined up and played against that defensive front.”
Florida’s defensive front returns its top five defensive tackles from last season, including starters Jaye Howard, a junior, and sophomore nose tackle Omar Hunter, a former five-star recruit. The Gators also added talented true freshman Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley, both top 10 recruits in the nation according to rivals.com, into the mix at tackle and have senior Justin Trattou, who has 19 career starts, at end.
What separates Florida’s front seven is its depth and speed, especially on the defensive line, Fitch said.
“They run,” he said. “Everybody has defensive backs, everybody has receivers, everybody has corners, everybody has tailbacks, but not many people have defensive linemen and a core seven that run that well. They have the best of them.”
Anchored by senior center Sampson Genus – an All-Big East second-team selection last year – the Bulls have confidence they can contain Florida’s defensive front.
Genus, senior Jake Sims, senior Jamar Bass, junior Chaz Hine and junior Jeremiah Warren combined for a total of 52 starts last season.
“We’re pretty much the most experienced (unit),” Genus said. “We all played last year and came back this year. It’s going to be an exciting year.”
Bulls hire longtime MLB assistant
USF baseball coach Lelo Prado announced Tuesday the hiring of longtime major league pitching coach Chuck Hernandez, who will fill the vacancy left by former pitching coach Lazer Collazo.
“I think it’s one of the most important pieces of the puzzle,” Prado said. “I think he’ll bring something to the program a lot of people around the country don’t have and that’s a professional guy that’s developed pitchers his whole life.”
Hernandez, 49, has served as pitching coach of the Los Angeles Angels (1992-96), the Detroit Tigers (2006-08) and the Tampa Bay Rays (2004-05).
Fitch said the Bulls will continue its running back by-committee approach despite the emergence of sophomore Demetris Murray on Saturday … Holtz acknowledged several players that “graded a winner” on special teams Saturday: senior Donte Spires, sophomores George Baker, Armando Sanchez and Kayvon Webster and freshman Mark Joyce … Senior defensive end David Bedford stood out on defense, according to Holtz: “I thought David Bedford played his best game since he’s been here.” Bedford had an interception, three tackles, and a tackle for loss.