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USF journal: Keirston Johnson expected to play Saturday

USF defensive tackle Bruce Hector (60) and defensive end Josh Black (55) converge on Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore during the Bulls' 33-3 triumph on Oct. 14


USF defensive tackle Bruce Hector (60) and defensive end Josh Black (55) converge on Cincinnati quarterback Hayden Moore during the Bulls' 33-3 triumph on Oct. 14



In the war of attrition that is late October, USF is getting freshman LB Keirston Johnson back just in time for Houston and its 33rd-ranked passing offense (270 ypg), which comes to Raymond James Stadium on Saturday.

Johnson, who had been sidelined since taking a hard hit to the chest against Temple on Sept. 21, practiced again Wednesday and is expected to play Saturday, Bulls defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary said.

“Everybody is in the same situation when you start getting closer to November,” Jean-Mary said. “The more bodies we can have this time of year, it’s always a plus.”

Before his injury, Johnson had at least one tackle in each of the four weeks he played — including at least one a game.

“It’s whatever bodies you have available,” Jean-Mary said. “Not even fully healthy bodies, but bodies who are able to play. You just have to play the guys that are available and hope they’re as productive as the guys who were starting before them.”

HECTOR STEPPING UP HUGE: With a minimum five games remaining this season, senior DT Bruce Hector already has 10 tackles for loss, only five fewer than his college total entering 2017.

The Robinson High alumnus' four sacks also leads the Bulls. Hector and DT Deadrin Senat have accounted for 48 tackles so far for a run defense that ranks ninth nationally (94.4 ypg).

One possibility for Hector's success? The offense he practices against.

“Obviously, I think our offense is one of the top offenses in the country,” Jean-Mary said. “So if you’re able to be productive against them, then you feel like you have a chance to be productive against other opponents.

“(Hector) constantly showed up in preseason camp. I haven’t been surprised and I think he’s playing unbelievable and at a level where he’s one of the better defensive lineman in the country."

Though playing against the running corps of Quinton Flowers, Darius Tice and D’Ernest Johnson on a daily basis surely has helped, Jean-Mary suggested Hector's off-field preparation also has levitated his game.

“You have to give him credit for his film study, his pre-snap recognition based off of formation and what the offensive line is giving him.” Jean-Mary said. "And you have to give him credit for his tenacity and effort."

AUDIBLE: “In this conference, any Saturday, you have to finish games. Memphis is good on offense and they were able to come back and will themselves some points and guys made plays. Houston is still sturdy on defense —- good on the back end, good up front. They’re definitely going to be one of the best (defenses) we’ve faced. It just goes to show what can happen here.” — Bulls offensive coordinator Sterlin Gilbert, referring to Memphis' come-from-behind 42-38 win at Houston last week

[Last modified: Wednesday, October 25, 2017 6:21pm]


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