TAMPA,FL — The Bulls offense struggled mightily last season. Struggling to find the end zone, keep drives going, and committing turnovers on a regular basis.
Those days may be gone with a new crux of weapons a bulked up offensive line, and a clearer view at quarterback.
On Wednesday morning, USF returned to the practice fields for Day 3 of training camp in shorts, shirts and helmets. The offense seemed to tip the scales in their favor on this day, with some great catches from the wide receivers. One of the new weapons on the offense is wide receiver Rodney Adams.
A native of St. Petersburg, Adams returns to Tampa Bay in search for playing time after transferring from Toledo. All he’s looking to do is learn, grow, and help the team win.
“I try to do the best I can every day, just come out and work,” says Adams. “I mean the coaches are depending on everyone (due to) the season everybody had last year. So we’re just coming out every day just to get better and have a wonderful season this year.”
Adams made one of the better catches of the day in team drills, leaping high into the air and coming down between several defenders. Head coach Willie Taggert believes Adams can be a difference maker in the passing game.
“He can be big, he could be something that we’ve been missing,” said Coach Taggert. “Having a guy with speed that can stretch the field and also a guy that can catch a six-yard rout and take it 80 yards for you. You always love those guys. We’re real excited about Rodney and what he can do for us and he’s coming along you can see him getting comfortable with what we’re doing as well.”
Another group that seems to be getting comfortable is the offensive line. Despite a couple of shifts on the front five, the unit has been working hard in the offseason getting bigger in the weight room, and locking down their chemistry. Offensive lineman Thor Jozwiak says his unit has a lot to prove.
“We got a chip on our shoulders,” said Jozwiak.”That’s been an area of criticism for us throughout the spring and coming off last season. So all of us in the o-line room, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to work really hard and settle that chip and have a great offensive line season and get this offense rolling.”
Last year, running back Marcus Shaw was the highlight of the offense coming through with multiple 100+ yard running games. Both he and Michael Pierre have now moved on and USF is now seeking a new leader to carry the load.
Running back Darius Tice had some carries last year in Shaw’s absence, and is getting the first-team reps so far in camp. He looks to become a leader to his teammates similar to what Shaw provided last year.
“From my standpoint, it was awesome playing behind Marcus Shaw last year, I gained a little bit of experience,” said Tice. “So this year with the new guys I’m just trying to be their bigger brother like Marcus was for me and we’re just taking it a day at a time.”
Tice has come back from offseason surgery for a slight meniscus tear, and says he is progressing nicely in camp.
“My biggest progression has been size, speed and explosiveness. Coming from my injury that I had in the spring, my explosiveness and everything is what I was working on big time, and it felt like everything has come back.”
Overall, the offense and team in general has potential, but has been in the teaching stage the first three days of camp according to Coach Taggert.
“We really want to teach our guys and make them understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. Now as we get our teams together, the varsity and the freshman come together, now we’re going to expect the tempo to pick up even more. “We want to make sure they know what they’re doing first, before they can go fast. So we expect it to be faster come tomorrow.”
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