USA TODAY Sports
Normally spring practice is filled with fluff and it doesn't mean very much in the long run. This isn't going to be a normal spring practice, though.
I started thinking about the typical post we do at the beginning of spring practice. We look back at last season, figure out who's gone and who's coming in, and then decide what the key questions are and try to answer them. So I started doing that.
OK... who's going to be the quarterback? Who's going to carry the ball? How many wide receivers are going to play in Willie Taggart's offense and which ones will they be? Where are the impact players on the front seven? What's going to happen in the secondary? Who's going to kick the ball?
Do you see the problem? The entire team is the key question this spring.
Other than before its first season of existence, USF football has never been in this position. It's like Taggart is starting the program over again, because not only do you have a long list of questions about players, but we don't know much of anything about what the coaches have in store on either side of the ball. How well do these players fit into those new schemes? How many of these players will be replaced by the incoming freshman class in August, or at some point in the season?
Ryan already covered what Taggart said in Monday's press conference, including the suspensions of Bradley Battles (no big deal), Chris Dunkley (somewhat of a big deal), and Terrence Mitchell (definitely a big deal). In another spring, they might be near the top of the list of story lines. This year, there are so many things to keep an eye on that they just blend into the scenery.
In fact, this might be the first spring in which we truly learn some useful things. That's been another theme of ours during spring practices -- that everything is a cliche. Everyone's throwing good and hitting good and running good and learning good and they have lots of juice and we're Sending This Guy A Message and these guys have Something To Prove and etc. etc. etc. I don't think there are cliches this year. Not just because there are so many holes to fill in key positions. It's also because Taggart doesn't seem to give a damn what the depth chart said last year. There aren't any reserved spots in the starting lineup (except for probably Aaron Lynch). And there are no preconceived notions like, "Well, Ryne Giddins is going to start, he has all that talent." I really believe Taggart has the nerve to bench a guy like that if he needs to make room for someone who earned a spot. That makes spring practice as important as it's ever been here.
So that's where we start the 2013 season, with everything up for grabs. You get 15 practices, some more work in the fall, and then McNeese State shows up in 165 days. Time to do something, everyone.