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Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando focusing on ‘fundamentals’ as spring game approaches

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando said USF needs to focus on cleaning up the simple things in order to get better. ORACLE PHOTO/HANNAH HALILI

USF’s new defensive coordinator Todd Orlando spoke at the indoor practice facility on Thursday about the football team’s game plan as the team approaches its first spring game on campus since 2019 on April 14.

This is Orlando’s debut season with the Bulls (1-11, 0-8 AAC) after the firing of previous defensive coordinator Ernie Sims.

Orlando said focusing on the fundamentals has been their main priority since beginning spring practices. Last year, South Florida’s defense ranked last in Division I in yards allowed and let up 41.7 points per game, ranking last in the division.

“The first thing we’ve got to fix is getting these guys closer together, that’s our number one goal in spring football,” Orlando said. “That’s the start [to me] in any work environment, is to get close enough to people that care [and] trust them. That’s what we’re working on.”

Strong chemistry is crucial for any team to persevere through their adversities. This is something South Florida lacked last year, notching only one win the whole season.

Some players on the team are already in favor of the coaching style this new administration has brought.

Senior defensive end Jason Vaughn said that of his five years at USF, he’s never felt such close relationships with his teammates.

“It feels more fun,” Vaughn said. “The players are definitely way closer than almost any time I’ve been here. It doesn’t feel like a nine-to-five, it feels like you’re here to play football and enjoy it”

Both coach Alex Golesh and Orlando’s high energy has greatly translated onto the team, as new players said they are enjoying their time at South Florida.

Junior defensive end Lloyd Summerall, who recently transferred from Florida, said he was easily convinced to join South Florida and is excited to start playing this season.

“The process has been bittersweet, just having that bond again,” Summerall said. “We have a great mindset tool, everyone is working to get better and [we’re all] leaning on each other.”

Orlando’s defensive team has also been developing new tactics for the players’ performance on the field.

These tactics include new verbiage and a percentage breakdown chart that the coaches use to see the players’ proficiency. To cut the verbiage time used in games, Orlando said he will be implementing the use of colors to label his defensive plays.

For Summerall, getting accustomed to this new method will be easy as he’s used similar tactics in previous positions.

“I’m familiar with that,” Summerall said. “I feel like we did a couple of those things at Florida [and] just carried it down here.”

For future seasons, Orlando is set to recruit in the Tampa and Miami area. He said some of USF’s best rosters came from the area, so recruiting locally should be a priority.

“As the defensive coordinator I go around and see every defensive guy that I can,” Orlando said. “They have me all over the place, but right now my state area [is] Miami-Dade.”

Under an entirely retooled coaching staff, South Florida expects to establish a new winning culture with hopes of bowl eligibility.

The Bulls will play their first spring game on April 14 at Corbett Stadium where kickoff is set to begin at 7 p.m. Broadcasting for this game will be on ESPN+ and Bulls Unlimited Radio.