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August 7, 2013
Nadalman, Robbins shine in day 3
It's almost that time for the USF - today at practice coach Willie Taggart told the media that Thursday his Bulls will get to work in shoulder pads which will lead into full pads on Friday.
As for today, what was stressed the most on the field were special teams and the defense, two factors that USF needs to improve on if they hope to put last year behind them.
Practice started with freshman kicker Emilio Nadelman who couldn't seem to miss the uprights, kicking from all over as he made about four or five in a row by the time the media stepped in to watch. From there coach Taggart and the team watched in awe as redshirt sophomore Mattias Ciabatti kicked two monster punts to the right side of the field. His third was bit shaky, but after the first two Taggart couldn't help but to chime it.
"What did you eat today?" Taggart yelled out to Ciabatti.
Once kicking came to an end the defense took the field for some running drills. Running to the ball is something Taggart has been stressing to the defense along with defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan who has been preaching takeaways to the defense since he arrived after a season where the Bulls only had nine total.
With the returning defenders (no returning starters according to Taggart) along with the freshmen/newcomers on the defensive side of the ball, the Bulls are certainly aiming to make improvements.
Freshman/Secondary: The secondary had a total of two interceptions all last year, something that freshman Lamar Robbins plans to change once he puts on a USF uniform - he already has one.
Yesterday at practice he did the unthinkable - he challenged veteran wide receiver Andre Davis.
"He told us he was going to shut Andre down." Senior safety Mark Joyce said. "A lot of guys seem real scared of Andre."
Robbins seemed to have kept his word. According to Taggart and Joyce, Robbins went up over Davis to snag an interception.
Taggart said that he likes the size Robbins brings and 6-feet, 2-inches. Joyce says he like his confidence.
With help from Robbins, Joyce said that the goal is to put last season's two interceptions behind them.
"We're trying to move past that and do better this year." He said.
Newcomer/Defense line: Once he transferred to USF, his name could not stop being uttered. Sophomore defensive end Aaron Lynch seems to be living up to the hype that surrounds him, already being compared to Jason Pierre-Paul by fellow defensive end senior Julius Forte.
"He somewhat reminds of a 'JPP'," Forte said. "The way he uses his length and his strength. He's a very explosive player as a whole."
Speaking of former USF stars on the line, Forte was reminiscent today. He recalled how what USF was known for was its defensive line. He said that USF's line has always set the tone, despite a new staff with new players, he also said that it's not changing.
Lynch adds to that tone as he adds competition among the line with Luke Sager, Forte and more. According to Forte though, it's a good thing at practice.
"He's a little crazy at times but that's what makes him Aaron Lynch." Forte said. "He brings intensity and excitement that just can't be duplicated. He makes the rest of the line want to work."
What the defense is working for could be a rather big step up from last season. USF had nine takeaways last year and junior linebacker Reshard Cliett said that the goal for the defense is 58 takeaways.
"57 is our all-time back in 1970," he said. "We've been stressing that."
New offense: On the flip side, Taggart is bringing a whole new aspect to the offense - the tight end.
This excites players like junior tight end Mike McFarland, who caught four passes all last year in the 12 games that he started. This year fans should be looking to the tight end with Taggart's new style of play.
"It's a pretty amazing feeling just to be associated with this type of offense," McFarland said. "Seeing the success Taggart has had with it at Western Kentucky and Stanford, it gives be chills just thinking about what we can do."
When asked what tight ends other than himself that we should keep an eye on this year on field, his answer was simple.
"Everyone with 'TE' in front of their name."
The Excitement level A few days into practice and it seems that Taggart is bringing excitement to every side of the ball, but among all he seemed content with where his Bulls are as of now. In fact, he said they're exactly where he thought they would be.
Plus, it's hard to get too excited as of now. After all, Coach Taggart still can't wait for Friday when the Bulls go in full pads.
"It's going to be a lot of fun." He said.
Adam Fenster is a writer for the Oracle, the on-campus student newspaper at University of South Florida. He is a journalism major and contributes to Runningthebulls.com