Spring practice is winding down for USF.
That can only mean one thing — the spring game is here.
After an offseason filled with changes — from departed players to new coordinators — fans will be able to get their first glimpse at a new-look Bulls team.
But don’t show up to Corbett Stadium on Saturday at 1 p.m. expecting to see the finished product. This is, after all, spring football.
“It’s always kind of a showcase,” defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said. “It’s going to be pretty vanilla for us on defense. Spring is one of those things, I always say, ‘It’s like fighting your … twin brother.’ It’s still a family affair. You’re not going out there trying to embarrass them or injure or hurt anyone or anything like that.”
Saturday may just be a showcase, but it’s still an opportunity for players to start fresh and show fans what’s changed from last season.
“It’ll be fun,” defensive end Kirk Livingstone said. “It’s something that we haven’t done since last year and it’s something that we’re looking forward to.
“It’s always nice to play in front of the fans … and it’s always nice to start off fresh.”
So, how improved is the USF defense from last season?
“If I had to give [the defense] a grade, I’d actually give it a B,” Jean-Mary said. “I think if you’re going to go from where we ended last year to where we feel like we’re at right now, I think we’ve progressed.”
Jean-Mary’s B grade for his defense should be a welcome sight for a defense that finished 122nd in yards allowed per game in FBS last season. There were 129 teams in FBS in 2018, so the defense’s grade clearly wasn’t a great one to end the season.
“Obviously that was anywhere from a D to an F if you want to give ourselves a grade,” Jean-Mary said. “So we feel like we’ve progressed. We like where we’re at right now, but we’ve got to keep progressing and honestly, our No. 1 goal is still always to stop the run.”
If the defense is going to stop the run like Jean-Mary intends it to, it’s going to have to make tackles, and that’s perhaps the most improved aspect so far for USF.
“That’s something that we’ve worked on at the start of practice after we do field goals,” Livingstone said. “We have like four little drills that we do for maybe like 15 minutes or so. And we’ve done it since Day 1 [of spring practice].”
WHAT: USF Spring Game
WHERE: Corbett Stadium
WHEN: Saturday, 1 p.m.
ADMISSION/PARKING: Both admission and parking are free. USF Elm Drive will be closed Saturday. Fans are encouraged to access campus via USF Bull Run Drive and park in lot 22F near the Yuengling Center or via 50th Street and park in Lot 18T on USF Sycamore Drive.
TV/RADIO: The game will be streamed via The Identity Tampa Bay and on the USF Radio Network (WWBA-AM 820 locally and Bulls Unlimited on iHeartRadio).
OTHER THINGS TO LOOKOUT FOR: From 11 a.m. until kickoff, fans can participate in what is being referred to as “Fan Pro Day” on USF Elm Drive, where fans can test their football skills. Activities include field-goal kicking, vertical and broad jumps, the shuttle run and throwing accuracy … There will be food trucks located outside of Corbett Stadium in addition to a pre-game beer garden for fans 21 and older … A SOCOM Para-Commando jump will take place prior to kickoff.