(EDITOR'S NOTE: This is Part 2 of our 2010 season review, complete with as many Ben Folds lyrics as we can shoehorn in. Part 1 addressed the Jim Leavitt firing and the hiring of Skip Holtz. Today we're looking back at spring practice and the summer doldrums.)
Hey Love Master Z
Sexy online psychic overseas
When my bank card clears
Tell me things I want to hear
Isn't that what spring practice and the rest of the offseason is like? We're waiting for all those feel-good stories to come out, and as soon as spring practice gets going, here they come.
All the players are excited about getting better... new, more logical schemes are being drawn up on both sides of the ball... Ryne Giddins is vowing to get 42 sacks in a single season (which would be a record)... Lindsey Lamar is making the switch from running back to wide receiver... B.J. Daniels is cleared to play in the spring game, even though he'll be wearing a non-contact jersey while he continues recovering from shoulder surgery... then he absolutely tears it up with 381 yards and five TDs... we catch wind of Dontae Aycock, Darrell Scott, and Spencer Boyd transferring into the program... recruits for 2011 start making verbal commitments... it's good times!
Hey Dr. Jack
Bend me like a pretzel till I crack
All my joints and bones
Beat me up and send me home
And then things started going to hell right around the end of the spring game.
Veteran offensive guard Zach Hermann had already decided to leave the team because of a lingering neck injury. Once the spring game unfolded, it was obvious that the stats being piled up were bogus because of how vanilla the defense was. It was also obvious that the Bulls' backup quarterback situation was going to be a problem if heaven forbid something were to happen to Daniels. Then near the very end of the game, when you could argue the game should have already ended, A.J. Love blew out his knee without even being hit. The turf monster jumped up and took away one of the Bulls' few experienced receivers for the season.
Things got pretty quiet for a couple months, but within minutes of the players beginning their voluntary summer workouts in late June, Sterling Griffin messed up his ankle something fierce. At this point USF was down to only one healthy player who had caught more than 50 yards' worth of passes in 2009 (Dontavia Bogan).
(Back to "tell me things I want to hear" -- reports starting popping up as early as May that Love might be able to return towards the end of the season, and Griffin even got to the point where he was in uniform for the Syracuse and West Virginia games. But neither one made it back during the season. Griffin wasn't quite 100% even when he was suited up and eventually took his redshirt year, so he'll still have three years of eligibility. And we'll have to see if our paperwork ninjas in the compliance department can get Love a sixth year of eligibility from the NCAA.)
Skip Holtz tried to find extra receivers to fill the gap. He brought in T.J. Knowles as a transfer from California, but Knowles got very little playing time. Holtz also tried bringing former NC State wideout Donald Bowens in for a year as a graduate transfer, but that ended when USF's Graduate School denied him admission. With so many holes at receiver to add to the question marks on defense, expectations for the season were about as low as they had ever been for the Bulls since moving up to FBS. Could this team even get to a bowl?
(In Part 3 - fall practice, the trip to Vero Beach, and the warmup game against Stony Brook.)