Our position, in general, on spring football is pretty clear. We just want to get through it without anyone being seriously injured. Whatever you see in spring practice, especially during the scrimmages where there are all kinds of ground rules, is probably fool's gold. We might learn a few things from these next several weeks, but nothing earth-shattering. Don't expect us to come away with a high-level understanding of Chris Cosh's defense, or whether or not Todd Fitch has drawn up another 15 fade routes to fail at the goal line. You have to wait for the real games to start for all that.
(And we sure as hell aren't making any predictions about this season right now, because we're 100% done trying to buy into any preseason hype about this team.)
That being said, there are some things that are worth keeping an eye on:
1. The backup quarterback situation. Like I said last month when Asiantii Woulard verbally committed for 2013, a lot depends on whether or not Matt Floyd becomes the backup to B.J. Daniels. I thought he probably was the true backup at the end of last season, but when Daniels got hurt, Holtz decided it wasn't worth it to burn Floyd's redshirt for one or two games and a piddling bowl game. Floyd needs to be the #2 QB sooner or later if he wants to become the starter after Daniels is finished. But we'll see what happens in spring. It could be the difference between sticking with one QB in the 2013 recruiting class, or the staff hitting the road again over the summer to try and find another one.
2. Who's going to run the ball other than Demetris Murray? After Darrell Scott's possibly ill-advised early departure for the NFL Draft, you still have Murray, but then a lot of question marks. Bradley Battles and Marcus Shaw are still on the roster but haven't capitalized on the chances they've had up to now. Willie Davis is an unknown commodity after redshirting last season. Victor Marc is the most experienced option, but he made some crucial errors down the stretch last season. And there isn't much help coming in the fall -- only JUCO Michael Pierre arrives. We won't really know if the plan is to shift more of the running load to Daniels until the games start, but we can find out who else can line up next to him and be effective.
3. Who shakes out at wide receiver? There might be too many candidates to start. Do you want Sterling Griffin? Andre Davis? Chris Dunkley? (Oh, you forgot about him, didn't you. He'll be limited during spring, though.) Alex Mut? Deonte Welch? Ruben Gonzalez? A hopefully healthy Terrence Mitchell? A hopefully-rejuvenated Lindsey Lamar? So many options for Todd Fitch to potentially squander! Also, will a new wide receivers coach (Jerome Pathon) have a different opinion of his players than Phil McGeoghan did?
4. Who's going to step up in the secondary? Did the DBs look bad last year because Mark Snyder had them play so far off the ball? Or did Mark Snyder have them play so far off the ball because they weren't skilled enough to be more aggressive? It's hard to tell. And it might still be hard to tell this year because even though Chris Cosh talks a good game about being aggressive, his track record is not (although to be fair, the Big XII has about a million times more offensive firepower than the Big East). We'll have to trust the depth chart here to see if Chris Bivins, Fidel Montgomery, Patrice Pierre, or someone else makes a push. You probably won't learn much in the spring games because the rules usually neuter the defense.
5. Can anyone punt the ball well? We're not knocking his effort, but USF cannot go into another season with Justin Brockhaus-Kann hitting 28-yard moonshots. For a team that wants to play field position and keep things close to the vest, giving up 10-15 yards of field position every time there's an exchange of punts is asking for failure. If JBK is offering you more of the same in spring, there has to be a change, whether it's Chris Veron (who I can't believe didn't get a shot at some point last year), Marvin Kloss, Mattias Ciabatti, another pass at Maikon Bonani rugby kicking, a walk-on in the fall, or whoever.