USF football’s defense looks to build on ‘established roots’

USF defensive coordinator Todd Orlando at the spring practice press conference on Tuesday. ORACLE PHOTO/NOAH VINSKY & ORACLE GRAPHIC/JUSTIN SEECHARAN

USF football’s effort to build off its turnaround season will likely start on the defensive side of the ball.

South Florida gave up 432.5 yards per game and was ranked 115th in total defense last season.

USF has brought in defensive talent through the transfer portal, bringing in four new players, two from the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

Related: USF football ‘establishing a foundation’ heading into spring practice season

Defensive coordinator Todd Orlando is in his second season with the Bulls. He said this year is about his team increasing their knowledge of defensive style and scheme.

“I think it’s just the knowledge of the actual package itself,” he said. “I think [we] are doing a really good job of explaining where the vulnerabilities are…from our guy’s standpoint, it’s about continuing to develop as football players and athletes.”

The Bulls’ approach to spring practice reflects a clear evolution from the previous season. Coming off seven wins, the bar is set for South Florida.

With a renewed emphasis on mastering defensive schemes and refining individual skills, Orlando is focused on building on the momentum of its successful campaign.

“We are starting to talk about ball now”, he said. “It’s kind of like a tree, you can’t just pluck the tree down, you got to dig into the ground and get these roots established before you start figuring out what type of fruit you are going to get.”

Graduate linebacker Jhalyn Shuler is coming off his best statistical season, leading the team with 97 tackles.

Schuler credited his success last season more to the opportunities for growth he experienced, having started all 13 games. However, he said that his primary focus remains on personal and team improvement.

“Last year was just a lot of growing for me, physically and mentally,” he said. “Personally, I feel like it was a good first year to come out, but we can always do better, that’s all I am focused on – getting better this year.”

Senior defensive end Tramel Logan is coming off a season where he amassed three defensive touchdowns, including one in the Boca Raton Bowl.

Despite the success of last year, Logan said that last season didn’t go how the team wanted.

“I’m trying to end it with a bang,” he said. “There’s only one way to go out: go big or go home, and I tell them ‘I ain’t going home.’