Bulls defense looks for takeaways

Senior linebacker Sabbath Joseph said the entire defense goes through “strip drills” every day before practice.

The defense’s area for improvement is clear, he said.

“We need to cause more turnovers,” he said. “We have to have them. More takeaways.”

The Bulls rank second in the Big East with five interceptions (four came in the first game against Stony Brook) this season and third in pass defense, but are one of two schools in college football with no fumble recoveries.

USF also ranks in the bottom half of the conference with a minus three turnover margin, including its last two games with six giveaways to just one takeaway.

“The turnover battle bothers me right now,” said coach Skip Holtz. “That’s a huge emphasis we make as a team. We’ve had our hands on balls. We’ve had opportunities to make interceptions. We just haven’t been able to come down with them.

“You make your breaks. It’s not a concern right now to where it’s a ‘lions and tigers and bears, oh my’ type of situation. It’s something we just have to keep emphasizing,” he said.

Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said the takeaways should mostly come from the defensive backs and linebackers.

“Take the football away,” he said. “When we get a running back stood up, we have plenty of opportunities. We have to get the ball out. There’s where we need to get better.”

Receiving help on the way?

There’s a good chance senior receiver Dontavia Bogan, who’s been nursing an ankle injury suffered against Florida, will play Saturday against Florida Atlantic, Holtz said Tuesday.

Bogan, who didn’t dress for Saturday’s game against Western Kentucky, practiced Sunday.

Holtz said he’s been encouraged with sophomore wide receiver Sterling Griffin’s progress. Griffin, who is recovering from a dislocated and fractured ankle suffered during summer workouts, wasn’t ruled out of Saturday’s game by Holtz.

“I think I’m more encouraged than our trainer,” Holtz said. “I think he’s got a chance (to play Saturday). The trainer still feels like he’s a week away. Obviously, I’ll obey any of his commands or whatever he feels is necessary. But I thought he really looked good … running around out there on the field Sunday night.”

Update on kicker battle

Senior kicker Eric Schwartz, who missed field goals of 26 and 46 yards on Saturday, hasn’t lost his job yet, Holtz said.

“We’ll turn and let those guys kick a little bit this week and see where we are,” he said.

Redshirt sophomore Maikon Bonani connected on a 33-yard field goal, but he could be limited this week due to “a little bit of a hip strain,” Holtz said Tuesday.


Sophomore running back Demetris Murray missed practiced Tuesday with an ankle injury, but he is expected back today, Holtz said … Holtz offered more praise for redshirt sophomore punter Justin Brockhaus-Kann, whose 48.1 yards per punt this season (eight punts) ranks third in the country. “He’s just killing that ball right now,” he said.