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Scott sees 2022 as a clean slate for USF football

Coach Jeff Scott labeled 2022 as a clean slate for USF football during the first press conference of the spring season on Thursday. JOEY KNIGHT/TAMPA BAY TIMES

During a press conference on Thursday, coach Jeff Scott took it upon himself to demonstrate the theme of the upcoming spring season with a blank sheet of paper.

“I know you’re going to ask for the spring depth chart so I brought it for you,” he said while holding up the sheet. “There it is right there. Take a good picture. That’s the spring depth chart.”

Coming off a 2-10 season marred with several blowout losses, something needed to change within the program. As depicted by the blank sheet, the Bulls are starting the spring with a clean slate of new coordinators, players and practice methods.

In winter workouts, a new technique — a grit score — was put to use with the help of strength and conditioning coach A.J. Artis. 

USF’s grit score challenges players to perform better by rating them on a scale of zero to four, with four being the best, according to Scott. These scores, however, are not private to individual players. Instead, the team can compare scores and keep each other accountable.

“That allows them the next day [to] come in and see coach Artis or [assistant strength and conditioning coach Jordan] Diaz and say ‘Why did I get a two yesterday? I thought I did pretty good.’ And [they say], ‘So well actually I saw this yesterday,’” Scott said. 

As the team prepares for the upcoming spring season, they must adjust to the new concepts and practices that new offensive and defensive coordinators, Travis Trickett and Bob Shoop, respectively, will implement. 

In the short time he’s spent at USF, Trickett is already impressed with the way he has been welcomed with open arms by staff and players. 

“What I’m most excited about is really getting our team and our players detail-oriented,” he said. “Our coaches are there. They’ve been phenomenal. Our players have been great in the short amount of time that we use.” 

Trickett’s attention to detail and highlighting good traits is his key to success and what he believes will move this program forward onto a better path. 

“Identifying what your players do best, highlight that,” he said. “Especially whatever is a weakness of what they do on that other side of the ball, but whoever your best players are, do what they do best … and just let your players play.”

Though Trickett is hopeful, he is inheriting one of the poorest offenses in the AAC. 

In 2021, the Bulls’ offense was ranked in the bottom three of the conference in multiple per-game offensive statistics including points, total yards and passing yards.

Although the task of fixing USF’s offense is a tough one, Trickett believes one of the solutions is cultivating a strong bond with his players and fostering belief in themselves and the future of the program.

“Right now, our offensive coaches are meeting with all our players one-on-one going through spring goals,” he said. “We want them to have a sense of hope, a sense of getting excited about being developed and being coached.

“Nowadays that’s how you got to coach, you got to be relationship-based. That doesn’t mean being soft, that means they got to know you for you, not just coach but as the man.” 

With these new changes, a new future for the Bulls is expected by both the program and the fans of USF football.