Bulls still seeking the 'right 5' up front
Since spring practice dawned roughly six months ago, USF's offensive staff has experimented with different lineups along the offensive front in search of a unit that will mesh.
Eight shaky quarters into the season, the experimenting continues, offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert suggested.
"It's just reps, and still finding the right five, that's the thing," Gilbert said after Wednesday's practice, held in probably the mildest weather of the season (around 90 degrees) to date.
The No. 22 Bulls enter Friday night's home game against Illinois 90th nationally in sacks allowed (2.5 per game), a staggering figure considering the mobility of QB Quinton Flowers. They churned out 315 rushing yards at San Jose State, but managed 153 on 49 carries (3.1 yards per attempt) against Division I-AA Stony Brook.
The same lineup -- LT Eric Mayes, LG Jeremi Hall, C Michael Galati, RG Cameron Ruff, RT Marcus Norman -- started both games.
"They go, we go," Gilbert said. "But you have to find the five and those five have to mesh and be all on the same page about what's going on. We don't mind shuffling the deck to find that, it's not something you just knee-jerk and just do.
"We just have to make sure it's the right five, and we really find ourself liking the direction we're going with those guys right now."
POLK SIDELINED: Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary confirmed redshirt freshman MLB Andre Polk Jr., whose left knee was in a brace at practice late last week, won't be available for Saturday's game.
"They're gonna do some more tests on him," Jean-Mary said. "He kind of tweaked his knee, so we're gonna wait to see what the end result is on some of the scans and stuff right now, but he's not gonna be with us this week."
AUDIBLE: "The focus has been good. I think sometimes when you have a serious situation like we just had, guys come back and they're probably a little bit more appreciative of the opportunity to play when they have a game taken from them. So they've come out and have had little bounce in their step and a lot of energy." -- Jean-Mary, on the effort he has seen in this condensed practice week