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USF football’s offense going up-tempo under Strong

Though the Bulls' offense often scored in quick-strike fashion in 2016, coach Charlie Strong is still looking to speed up the playcalling. 
ORACLE FILE PHOTO/JACKIE BENITEZ

USF football will have a slightly different look in 2017.

Under a new coaching staff, the Bulls will adopt an offense that places a higher emphasis on a no-huddle attack, power running and more responsibility for the running backs in-between plays.

When coach Charlie Strong was hired in December, he brought multiple members from his old staff at Texas, as well as his offensive game-plan along with him.

“It’s a lot different, and definitely a whole lot faster,” said running back D’Ernest Johnson.

Johnson elaborated, stating that the running backs will have the responsibility of relaying the play from the sideline – to the offensive linemen, as the Bulls will aim to operate in a no-huddle scheme as much as possible next season.

“We’re the ones calling the plays to the offensive lineman. We get one opportunity to get the signal from the coaches, and then we make the calls,” Johnson said.

A speedy offense has become the identity of the Bulls new offensive coordinator, Sterlin Gilbert, who served the same position last year under Strong.

Running an average of 85 plays per game, Gilbert’s offense at Texas ran the fifth most plays per game in the country last season, 12 plays more than USF.

After a full week of spring practices, the Bulls are still getting used to the speed in-between plays that Gilbert is asking for.

“That was slow (Friday) we have to be faster,” said Gilbert after the Bulls’ Friday practice. “That was not our standard today. We have to progress and become faster as we go (on through spring practices and fall camp).”

Being faster in-between plays won’t be the only thing different for the Bulls running backs in 2017.

Running back Darius Tice, a senior last season who broke his ankle against FSU, was granted a medical red-shirt, making him eligible for the 2017 season.

Having Tice back for the season will add depth to the Bulls’ backfield that looks to build on last year’s 291 rush yards per game, but will have to do it without their leading rusher, Marlon Mack who’s entering the NFL draft.

“I’d say I’m 100 percent,” Tice said. “Things are starting to come back to me naturally. I’m back moving well and things have been going good.”