USF coach Willie Taggart has shaken up just about everything in his short time in Tampa. Why should the spring game be any different?
In an effort to foster competitiveness and have some good ol' fashioned fun, Taggart opted for a draft to split up his players into Green and White teams for the annual spring game. First, he chose defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan to coach the Green team and assistant head coach/secondary Ron Cooper to coach the White team. He then divided up the coaches and held a free agency period, where each team selected two players.
Green went with quarterback Bobby Eveld and defensive tackle Luke Sager; White went with defensive end Aaron Lynch and center Austin Reiter. Last week, a draft was held. USF revealed the first 30 picks, and the entire roster for each squad. The format, entirely different to the way USF used to run things, has pleased both players and coaches and brought a little more pep into the steps of everybody on the field.
"I think it’s made us a more competitive team, made us more energized in practices and overall," Sager said. "Especially in the short term and definitely for the long-term, this has made us a better team."
The draft strategies for both coaches were different. So today I am going to give you a glimpse into how Bresnahan went about choosing his team. He wanted to accomplish two things: bring in his starting quarterback, and establish his trenches. So he went with offensive and defensive linemen in his first six picks. In addition to Sager, his squad has defensive line starters Tevin Mims and Julius Forte; and offensive linemen Mak Djulbegovic, Brynjar Gudmundsson, Thor Jozwiak and Darrell Williams.
"We tried to do it to win in the trenches because I believe that’s where you win the game," Bresnahan said. "In a game like this, if you can run the football, it makes all the difference in the world, especially in the second half when it’s a running clock. If we can stop the run on defense, you’re forcing them to throw the football, and because the talent’s been divided, we’ve got a chance."
Bresnahan is going with the philosophy Taggart wants to pound home -- being the more physical team up front. On defense, the Bulls certainly have got depth and talent to play much better than they did a year ago. Ryne Giddins, who has been limited this spring because of injury, also is on the Green team.
"Overall, we have guys that we can interchange and there not be a dropoff," Sager said. "It’s great to see. The defensive front is one of the big strengths. With the majority of players back, we’re going to be one of the best positions on the team."
But what really has stood out to Bresnahan so far is the competitiveness of the team.
"We've only seen our players for 11 practices, but one thing I can guarantee you: no matter what the format was, whether you put their names in and shook them up in a jar or you drafted them, come Saturday it’s going to be competitive on the field," he said. "When the lights come on, we don’t have a bunch of roaches that scatter. We have ants that are going to stay in line and keep going."
Stay tuned for more information on the White team Wednesday morning.