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5 Things to Watch for in the USF Spring Game



Date: Saturday, April 13
Location: Corbett Stadium (USF campus)
    - Lawn chairs and beach blankets welcome for berm seating
    - Strollers welcome
    - No outside food or beverage allowed inside stadium, concessions stands open and water fountains available
Schedule: 11 a.m. - Fan Pro Day & Street Festival (interactive stations, food trucks, beverages, music, kids zone, photo stations)
        12:15 p.m. - HOT Band Road Show 
        12:55 p.m. - USSOCOM Para-Commandos Jump        
        1 p.m. - Kickoff
Admittance: FREE
Parking: Yuengling Center Lot 22F and Lot 18T Sycamore Drive
    - Normal pregame tailgating activities allowed
Live Stream: TheIdentityTB.com ; download The Identity Tampa Bay App (Jim Louk, Sam Barrington)
Radio: AM 820 | USF Bulls Unlimited (Jim Louk, Sam Barrington, Jim Lighthall, Joey Johnston, Rock Riley)
Follow: Listen | Watch | Twitter

USF Senior Writer

TAMPA, APRIL 11, 2019 – Four weeks of rehearsals are preparing head coach Charlie Strong's Bulls for the marquee event fans look forward to every offseason.

The USF Spring Game presented by USF Federal Credit Union kicks off 1 p.m. Saturday at Corbett Stadium, the on-campus soccer home of the Bulls. The game will be preceded by a Fan Pro Day and street festival on USF Elm Drive outside the stadium starting at 11 a.m.

The game will once again be streamed live and on-demand on The Identity Tampa Bay. The game can be viewed through the TheIdentityTB.com website, on iOS and Android apps, and also on Roku and Apple TV (see further information at the bottom of the page). The game will also be simulcast on the USF Radio Network (820 AM in Tampa/iHeart Radio - Bulls Unlimited channel). Coverage will begin at 12:30 p.m.

"The spring game is going to be really awesome to get in front of the fans and show them the changes we've made and the progress that's also being made," starting quarterback Blake Barnett said.

Here are five things to watch for as Kerwin Bell's explosive offense clashes with Brian Jean-Mary's progressing defense in the Bulls' third scrimmage of the spring:

#PlayFastScoreFaster Offense
USF's talent on offense is really excited about the possibilities in new coordinator Kerwin Bell's system that led NCAA Division II in scoring with 52.0 points per game in 2018. There was no shortage of points in last Saturday's scrimmage.

32404"It's a pro-style passing game that utilizes a professional passing game with a lot of the spread concepts," Bell said. "We think we've got the best of both worlds. We can get the ball in the hands of our best players when we need to and when we want to, and try to utilize our strengths in open-field situations, which is what the spread is really about."

The Bulls have stayed busy learning their new offensive system that's packed with more than 100 plays. USF won't reveal everything to fans Saturday, but expect to see speedy Bulls in space and receivers running a variety of different routes.

"We've got to think more, so we've got to be more detailed in what we do and stuff like that, but it's a lot of fun," said star sophomore receiver Randall St. Felix (Miami). "I'm having fun out there."

Improved Defense in Third Spring Under Jean-Mary
Fans should be encouraged by third-year USF defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary's assessment of his group's progress this spring.

"If I had to give it a grade, I'd actually give it a B," Jean-Mary said earlier this week. "I think if you're going to go from where we ended last year to where we feel we're at right now, I think we've progressed."

32516USF returns 16 lettermen and five starters from the 2018 squad that constantly had to learn in game situations at numerous positions filled with underclassmen. Now equipped with more experience, the Bulls have been moving faster this spring and making more of an impact with weight gains across the board.

USF has bulked up on the defensive line, where stopping the run and applying constant pressure are top priorities. The Bulls also have really focused on improving their tackling this spring at all positions.

"The defense has been flying around and just doing things that we didn't necessarily do last year," said senior defensive end Kirk Livingstone (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.).

QB Rotation
Fans will get to see how three different quarterbacks work in USF's new offensive system – senior starter Blake Barnett (Corona, Calif.) along with redshirt freshmen Jordan McCloud (Tampa) and Octavious Battle (Atlanta).

Barnett, a second-year Bull, will make his first USF Spring Game appearance after winning the starting job in camp last fall. At this point last year, Barnett wasn't on campus until transferring in last May.

32386"A year ago, we didn't know who the quarterback was going to be," said head coach Charlie Strong at the beginning of spring ball.

Barnett has shown a solid understanding of Bell's system throughout the spring after throwing for 2,710 yards and ranking 25th nationally in total offense (273.7 ypg) last season.

McCloud has picked up where he left off in camp last fall, making quick decisions and showing off his accuracy on throws all over the field this spring.

"I think Jordan and Blake have shown a lot of talent, a lot of poise," Bell said. "They've picked up the system and now we've just got to continue to grow with it."

Slot Standouts
Slot receiver is a spot that's turned into a big strength for the Bulls this spring with three different options producing big plays on the regular.

Sophomore running back Johnny Ford (Miami) has been pulling double duty in the slot and his playmaking ability was showcased during a two-touchdown performance in last Saturday's scrimmage.

32487"We've sold him on the fact (the slot) utilizes all his talents, not only catching the football down the field but catching screens in space," coordinator Kerwin Bellsaid. "And we're bringing him in the backfield and letting him be a runner."

One of the biggest breakout Bulls of the spring has been receiver Eddie McDoom(Winter Garden, Fla.). The junior transfer from Michigan looked electric during an 86-yard touchdown reception last Saturday and covered 107 yards on two scores.

"Eddie is a really explosive player. Out in the slot, he gets a chance to get lot of mismatches on him," quarterback Blake Barnett said. "A guy with good speed and agility and good hands, it works well."

Also keep an eye on No. 27 in the slot. Sophomore Bryce Miller (St. Petersburg, Fla.) has made many tough catches this spring after transferring in last fall from Southeastern University.

"Bryce is that kid who can get open in the middle of the field," Bell said.

Linebackers Picking Up Level of Play
Defensive coordinator Brian Jean-Mary mentioned four names this week when it comes to Bulls making a noticeable impact at linebacker in spring – sophomores Andrew Mims (St. Johns, Fla.), Antonio Grier Jr. (Atlanta), Dwayne Boyles Jr. (Miami) and redshirt freshman Trey Laing(Tallahassee, Fla.).

32539Mims has been impressive in the middle of the defense while senior Nico Sawtelle(Jensen Beach, Fla.) continues to recover from a neck/shoulder injury that sidelined him for the final seven games last season.

"Andrew Mims has probably been the brightest light so far in the spring as far as that (linebacker) group," Jean-Mary said.

Fans will notice both Boyles (224, +14) and Grier (220, +10) have benefited from USF's revamped offseason workout program that has them playing with even more of a physical style than last fall.

USF Elm Drive will be closed on game day. Fans are encouraged to access campus via Bull Run Drive from Fowler Ave. to park in the Yuengling Center Lot 22F or use North 50th Street to park in Lot 18T on Sycamore Drive. Normal pregame tailgating activities will be allowed in campus lots.

Prior to kickoff, fans of all ages can take part in skills testing stations and display areas that will be part of Fan Pro Day starting at 11 a.m. on Elm Drive outside Corbett Stadium. Fans can test their skills in several interactive areas, including vertical and broad jumps, the shuttle run and throwing and field goal accuracy, as well as enjoy display areas, including a Bulls uniform try-on.
Food trucks, a kids zone with inflatables, DJ music, a pre-game beer garden for fans 21 years and older, photo zones and numerous sponsor activations will also make pre-game activities outside Corbett Stadium fun for all ages. A jump by the SOCOM Para-Commandos will take place prior to kickoff.
Football season ticket members will enjoy an exclusive beer garden as well as opportunities to win prizes and raffle items throughout the day.
The spring game, which has drawn capacity crowds the past four seasons to Corbett Stadium, is free to the public. Normal pregame tailgating activities will be allowed in campus lots. Fans are also encouraged to bring blankets and utilize seating areas on the grass berms surrounding the playing surface as a large crowd is expected.

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I’ll be the guy in his 40s wearing USF gear. If you see me, don’t hesitate to say hello.

  • Haha 1

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Hopefully they'll be more than one!  Good day to meet people.

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12 min to kickoff and the crowd is still a little sparse

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That's saddening.

I think it's going to take a lot to bring fans back.

Maybe Bell's offense will and wins over some big non-cons again.  Doesn't help today though.  That's got to suck for the players.  I hope more fans get there soon.

There is a beer garden, so I have a hunch the people we know from here are there.  :)

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Starting to fill in

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If your point of comparison is USF, the crowd is just fine. If it’s Alabama, you’re going to be very disappointed.

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