Stampeding Through the Roster: Defensive Backs

More ball-hawking will be required from our DBs in 2013 - Joel Auerbach

The secondary will be the difference between a decent defense and a destructive one. And seriously, we can't get any fewer interceptions than last season.

What follows is VoodooFive's last ever reminder of 2012's pass defense. Last season, Kayvon Webster led the Bulls in tackles. You know what it means when a corner back leads the team in tackles? It means the other teams could throw whenever they wanted. It means the opposing quarterbacks were completing passes left, right and down the middle.

With only two interceptions, USF finished dead last in the country. USF had more interceptions against Notre Dame in the 2011 opener than they did all of 2012. The Bulls also finished 110th in passes broken up, with 32, less than three deflected passes per game. Combined, the Bulls finished 118th in passes defensed, better than only four teams.

USF was also 79th in opponents' 3rd down percentage, at 42%. Time and time again, the front seven would force USF's opponents into passing situations on 3rd down, and far too often, the secondary would give up a pass for a first down. Our pass defense was too often in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There's nowhere to go but up for this crew. With 16 players, it's the largest unit on the team.  Even if the secondary is just young, inexperienced, and mistake-prone, if they can be merely below average instead of one of the worst ten units nationally, it will be a huge improvement, and help the pass rush immensely in fortifying an above average defense. So who will hopefully lead the secondary from awful to mediocrity?

Safety

Of the two position groups, safety is clearly more experienced than corner back. Seniors JaQuez Jenkins and Mark Joyce have combined for 69 games played, including 19 starts. So they have experience, but how good are they? But the two have only combined for four INTs in three season, and four passes broken up in 2012. If Jenkins and Joyce can step up, they can serve as a foundation for the young DBs around them.

Freshman Nate Godwin, a three-star recruit rated 49th in the nation at safety, should push for playing time. Also figuring into the mix is juco transfer Torrel Saffold.

Corner Back

Now this is a motley crew if I've ever seen one. Guys with ACL injuries? Check. Walk-ons? Galore. Potential freshman starters? Yep, got them, too. Clear-cut starters? None to be seen so far.

Redshirt sophomore Chris Bivins (everyone's favorite snake-handling softball fan) is recovering from his second torn ACL, which he suffered last season. He may or may not be 100% before the season. Who definitely won't be around is senior Joshua Brown, who had his own ACL injury this summer. So I'm bummed that I won't have the opportunity to do some Brown Biv Durden jokes this season. Let's hope Josh can get a medical redshirt

According to the Greg "The Hammer" Auman, redshirt sophomore Kenneth Durden and walk-on senior Brandon Salinas have been practicing mostly with the first team. Durden, a Valdosta, Georgia native (Lowndes High-ee) played in 7 games last season, For Salinas, a guy who wasn't even on the team last year, and hasn't played since 2011, it would be a great story if he got the starting gig. Also in the mix to start is senior Fidel Montgomery, the most experienced returning CB with 12 appearances last season.

Like with other thin position groups, Coach Taggart told Auman that freshman will likely be in the mix.  Taggart said Lamar Robbins is "making a strong push" for a starting gig. Hassan Childs and Johnny Ward are also in the running for playing time.

Down the Depth Chart

Freshman Jalen Spencer has as shoulder injury; it might be smart to redshirt him. Spencer and walk-on juniors Tommy Hankerson and Trevon Griffin will likely be scrapping for playing time.

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