Spring game previews Golesh era

After the spring game on Friday, head coach Alex Golesh said he and his team have difficult decisions to make over the next 72 hours. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Bulls football fans filled Corbett Stadium to get a preliminary glimpse of the Alex Golesh era on Friday as the Green team beat the White team 18-6 in the spring game.

In his first spring game, Golesh said he was excited about fans seeing what the team had worked on during their 15 practices in the spring session.

“It was really fun, it was a cool night. In a lot of ways, it was our third scrimmage and our 15th practice, but that was super cool for our kids to see what an [engaged football fanbase] in Tampa looks like,” Golesh said.

One of the bigger threads throughout the past six weeks was the looming quarterback battle for first string.

Freshman quarterback Byrum Brown got the most reps during the scrimmage. He completed 10 of his 17 attempted passes for 121 yards and threw one touchdown. Freshman quarterback Bryce Archie also saw time and completed eight of his 13 passes for 41 yards.

Golesh said he is nowhere near selecting a starter because junior Gerry Bohanon has not had a chance to compete for the position. Bohanon is rehabbing his shoulder injury he sustained last season. However, Golesh did say he is ahead of his rehab schedule and has started throwing footballs.

Freshman quarterback Byrum Brown rushed for 18 yards on four attempts on Friday. USF ATHLETICS PHOTO

Whether it was because of sloppy execution or nerves of playing in front of a capacity crowd, the Bulls’ offense started the game slow. This sluggish opening was emphasized by Archie throwing two interceptions. Golesh did note they were down five wide receivers due to some sitting to avoid injury or recovering from postseason surgery.

The lack of wideout depth led to running back Kelley Joiner Jr. filling that void. He caught a 25-yard pass from Brown early in the first quarter.

Defense was an issue for the Bulls last season. However, Golesh said he was impressed with the pressure the defensive line applied on the edges during the game. The green and white teams’ offense converted on five of their combined 16 third-down conversion attempts.

One of the playmakers on that end of the field was senior safety D.J. Simpson, who caught an interception and returned it 60 yards for a touchdown. Simpson said he was optimistic about the defensive unit’s versatility this upcoming season.

“I feel like we’re a defense that’s gonna attack you from the first down all the way to the last,” Simpson said. “I feel like we got a defense that has a lot of flavor and that could mess with the quarterback’s head a lot. It’s also a defense that’s gonna stop the run.”

While the six weeks of spring ball have laid the groundwork for the team going forward, the program is currently at pivot point. Golesh said he and his staff have to make difficult decisions about the players’ futures over the next 72 hours.

This includes being active in the transfer portal, which opens on Saturday, to put together a team that can win “as fast as we can,” according to the rookie head coach. He called this offseason the biggest in program history.

“I think in every imaginable way we have to stamp what we’re doing here. We’ve got to validate the decision [Athletics director Michael Kelly] and his staff made to bring our staff here. We’ve got to validate the investment that’s being made in this program,” Golesh said.

“I don’t think you can equate it to necessarily wins and losses, but I think you can equate it in laying a foundation for a sustainable program with a sustainable culture and a sustainable vision.”