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April 22, 2012

Spring game sees improved defense; Daniels struggles

USF's defense wasn't about to have another lack luster performance at the hands of the offense.

Bulls coach Skip Holtz said the key during Saturday's spring game at Raymond James Stadium was the defensive front four, which played well despite losing a few key members due to injury in the last week.

"I was really pleased with the way the defense came out and the way they competed," Holtz said after watching Green beat Gold 37-7. "There is some speed on this team. This team is physical and they can run."

The defense surrendered nearly 700 yards of offense in the last scrimmage and ten touchdowns. Those numbers were cut in half on Saturday.

Led by end Ryne Giddins -- who had three sacks - the front four applied pressure all night. Senior quarterback B.J. Daniels went just 9-of-26 for 88 yards and also committed intentional grounding in the end zone, resulting in a safety.

"(Defensive coordinator Chris Cosh) is a perfectionist," linebacker Sam Barrington said. "I'm right there behind him. We have to aim for the sky. We feel like he's going to take us where we want to go as a unit."

The secondary also fared well. Junior cornerback Josh Brown made an interception on a jump ball in the end zone in the fourth quarter, and redshirt freshman cornerback Kenneth Durden returned a bad snap on a field goal for a 59-yard touchdown.

And after facing much scrutiny from defensive backs coach Rick Smith due to his durability (or lack thereof), safety JaQuez Jenkins also had a solid showing.

Stars on offense included junior running back Marcus Shaw, who had several big chunks on the ground and two touchdowns, and receiver Andre Davis, who caught 6 passes for 86 yards after totaling 118 receiving yards in the last scrimmage.

The backup quarterback battle will carry over into the fall and likely go the duratin of camp, Holtz said. Redshirt freshman Matt Floyd went 14-of-27 for 170 yards and an interception and junior Bobby Eveld was 12-of-19 for 136 yards and a touchdown, a 4-yard slant to Sterling Griffin in the fourth quarter.

For the most part, the team stayed healthy, a good sign heading into the summer after the team received news a few key members of the defensive line - starting tackle Cory Grissom (fractured ankle) and backup end Anthony Hill (ACL) - may miss extended time heading into the season.

"Every time the ball was snapped it was like, 'OK, 26 more (plays) to go. Just stay healthy,'" Holtz said.



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