The Charlie Strong era has begun at USF as spring practices started on March 6th and will conclude with the annual spring game on Saturday, April 15th. The free spring game is slated to start at 4PM on April 15th, at Corbett Stadium (located on the USF campus) and will have a pregame tailgate activities for both adults and kids from 2-4PM. The tailgate will include food trucks, kids inflatables, live music, and a student corn hole tournament.
Expectations are high coming off the best season in school history with a school record 11 wins and final ranking of 19 in the AP Poll. Record setting and dual threat stud qb Quinton Flowers returns for his senior season and could be a darkhorse Heisman candidate. During the spring, he is working on his passing mechanics and fixing his throwing motion under the new coaching staff to complement his ground game. Flowers, is the first qb in school history and the state of Florida college history to pass for over 2,000 yards in the air and run for over a 1,000 yards on the ground in the same season. For a state that has produced 8 Heisman winning QBs and numerous first round picks, none can claim the feat but Flowers, not even great dual threat qbs like Tim Tebow or Charlie Ward.
Leading rusher Marlon Mack and leading receiver Rodney Adams are gone and likely will land in the NFL. However, USF maintains a plethora of skill players coming back to help out Flowers with another dynamic offense. RBs D’Ernest Johnson and Daruis Tice should lead the ground game along with Flowers who had 1,530 yards rushing and 18 td’s on the ground. Tyre Mccants, Marquez Valdez-Scantling, and Ryshene Bronson all return at WR and have big play potential as each one had a td catch over 65 yards in 2016.
Hopefully during the spring, the new coaching stuff can start putting in the pieces to improve a woeful defense from a year ago. In 2016 opposing teams averaged 31 points a game and in USF’s 2 losses, Temple scored 46 points and FSU scored 55 points. The leader on defense to help turn things around is MLB Auggie Sanchez, a 2-time all-conference player. Helping him out will be another 2-time all-conference player in CB Deatrick Nichols who has 8 career interceptions. The defense has plenty of experience but needs to play better and limit the big plays that tormented them last year.
Fans are hoping all the kinks get worked out this spring as USF looks to build upon the 2016 season. Losing up and coming coach Willie Taggart to Oregon was a big loss but the program rebounded nicely with an experienced coach in Charlie Strong. Many pundits are already picking USF to go undefeated with a relatively manageable schedule and the favorite to be selected for a New Year’s 6 Bowl.
– Story by Yousaf Khan