To create a spark, USF coach Skip Holtz and his offensive staff are experimenting a bit.
Sunday’s practice featured position changes, schematic tweaks and an overall sense of urgency to find some production.
“We practiced a lot of different things (Sunday),” Holtz said. “I’ve tried to put some people in some different positions.”
One of those changes was freshman Terrence Mitchell, a Hillsborough High graduate who worked with receivers and could possibly line up there at some point this season, Holtz said.
Mitchell was recruited as a cornerback and is currently the Bulls’ primary punt returner.
“(We’re) just taking a look at him out there right now,” wide receivers coach Phil McGeoghan said. “He’s a very, very blessed young man. Maybe we can get him the ball in space and do some things. It’s just one of those things you do in practice to see if we can make this offense better.”
Holtz said Mitchell, who hasn’t seen much time at cornerback this season, first approached him about the idea of playing wide receiver.
“He said, ‘Coach, I want to play,'” Holtz said. “I’m not going to weaken our defense to strengthen our offense, but if you got a guy over there who’s one of your most dynamic players with the ball under his arm as he’s shown on punt returns, and we have a chance to give him the ball in space a little bit, you have to look at that.”
After the Florida game, Holtz said he discussed the possibility of Mitchell’s move to offense with defensive backs coach Rick Smith. But Holtz said Mitchell, 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, could still play cornerback this season and in the future.
“It could be a permanent move. Let’s see how he learns and what he picks up,” Holtz said. “If he can’t learn it, it doesn’t matter. And it’s going to be a challenge for him. If he can pick it up, when the season’s over, I’ll let him make that decision (to play offense or defense). That’ll be a good bridge to cross.”
Redshirt for Griffin?
Sophomore receiver Sterling Griffin, who is recovering from a dislocated and fractured ankle, “is still in a tightness mode,” Holtz said Sunday. Holtz didn’t rule out the possibility of a redshirt.
Griffin, a projected starter this year, was available for the last two games but never played.
“We’re just taking a long, hard look at him,” Holtz said. “He has unbelievable attitude.
“My mindset with him right now is, if somebody doesn’t get hurt, I’m not going to use his (redshirt) year with six games left to play a backup role. If we were to have a couple injuries and he could play a starting role for us the last five or six games of the year, then we’ll look at the possibility (of him playing). We just have to see how he progresses.”
Holtz said USF’s defense, which hasn’t forced a turnover in two games, needs to improve in that area … Sophomore running back Demetris Murray, who was held out of Thursday’s game with an ankle injury, practiced Sunday.