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USF backups coming along

Posted Sep 20, 2011 by Adam Adkins

Updated Sep 20, 2011 at 05:16 PM

Tuesday’s notes from correspondent Michael Manganello:

Following the season opening test on the road against Notre Dame, USF’s schedule had a series of three home games against non-automatic qualifying conference teams — including one against FCS opposition — to allow backups and young players time to improve their play in time for the Big East opener against Pittsburgh on Sept. 29.

With games against Ball State and Florida A&M now having been played, the coaching staff is happy with the progress the non-starters have made.

“It was really good to see our twos, which we made a big deal of after the Ball State game, being more productive, being more efficient and having some quality reps in the second half,” offensive coordinator Todd Fitch said. “We played all but one series, basically, of the second half with our twos and threes, so there was a lot more production there. We had some growth.”

Among the offensive reserves that impressed against the Rattlers was the second offensive line unit, including Damien Edwards, who spent more of the preseason working at tackle but mas moved to guard and Kevin McCaskill, who is transitioning back to center after previously being moved to guard.

“We’re just trying to solidify the best spots,” Fitch said. “If we get an injury, McCaskill has played a lot of center at critical times, he played the whole second half of the Miami game (last year), let’s put it that way. We felt let’s get him some work at center. His talents are best suited for center and we needed a bigger guard, that’s why Damien moved in.”

Defensively, the progress is similar. True freshman Elkino Watson, as well as defensive end Anthony Hill and linebacker Mike Jeune, were among a host of role players that defensive coordinator Mark Snyder mentioned as having impressed in the Florida A&M game.

Head coach Skip Holtz said the last two weeks have been invaluable in terms of allowing plenty of players to play and building depth.

“The last two weeks have been a great opportunity for us to get a lot of people in the game, to play a lot of people and get a lot of people game-like reps, which you can’t simulate in practice,” Holtz said. “It’s not just going out there and running plays, but going out there and executing things with people in the stands is quite different.”

INJURY REPORT: The only new injury concern is senior cornerback Quenton Washington, who has been struggling with a knee injury since training camp. His injury will be buoyed by the return of sophomore JaQuez Jenkins, who has missed two games with a hamstring strain but returned to practice Tuesday. Also back this week is DT Demi Thompson, who has been out since suffering a back injury during camp in Vero Beach.

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