Seniors prepare for final game in Bulls uniform


USF defensive end Ryne Giddins said he doesn’t know when it’ll come, whether on the bus, airplane or at the stadium, but the senior said he’ll speak from the heart to his teammates sometime before his last collegiate game.

Giddins and 16 other seniors will play their last game as Bulls (2-9, 2-5) on Saturday in Piscataway, N.J. at 7:30 p.m. against Rutgers (5-6, 2-5), and Giddins won’t need to write anything down before he speaks in front of more than 70 players.

“This is my last college game,” he said. “I’m just going to let it flow from the top.”

But four games ago, USF coaches presented the Bulls’ defense with a challenge for the rest of the season, something Giddins and fellow seniors took to heart.

“We reached a point where there was so much frustration building and when you let that roll down hill it can really tear a team apart,” defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan said. “So we gave them something to focus on. We felt like we could be a top 10 defense if
we executed.”

Bresnahan said a top 10 defense in yardage allowed is the goal for the last four games after being eliminated from conference championship contention and a bowl game appearance.

“During this season, things didn’t go our way,” Giddins said. “A four-week plan gave us something to look forward to and strive for.”

Bresnahan said senior defensive players took it upon themselves to remind each other of the goal each time they stepped on the field in a game, because once the idea was introduced, each player bought in.

“They jumped right on board, and they were excited to have something to look forward to,” he said. “Something to challenge them that was attainable. It wasn’t an easy challenge and they worked their butt off. They remind themselves of (the goal) each series.”

In addition to the defensive goal, senior defensive tackle Luke Sager said in the absence of then-suspended and now-former senior defensive backs Mark Joyce and JaQuez Jenkins Nov. 29, all four freshmen defensive backs made the most of their increased playing time.

“They’ve stepped up all year
running a college defense,” Sager said. “All four are freshmen playing at a high level.”

Freshmen defensive backs Lamar Robbins, Nate Godwin, Hassan Childs and Johnny Ward each have an interception this season and six
interceptions combined.

“You never think you’ll have four freshmen playing in a group, but I’ve been around long enough to know you have to prepare ahead,” Bresnahan said. “You can go through a rash of injuries and it’ll happen.”

As for his seniors, Bresnahan said while it’s difficult to implement new strategies with so many young players in the lineup, he’s proud of his seniors.

“I’m proud of them and the leadership they’ve given,” he said. “We’ve laid a very solid foundation. It’s kind of an honor to coach these guys in my first year and see them move on. They’ve never backed down.”