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Ending defense trend is Bulls' big spring focus

TAMPA - Joey Johnston The Bulls The defense must improve, particularly in the fourth quarter. All around the University of South Florida football program, everyone agrees with that as the Bulls finish their second week of spring drills. Last fall, when the Bulls finished 5-7 and missed a bowl game for the first time since 2004, the season devolved into a series of late-game meltdowns.
Rutgers went 80 yards in 12 plays, forcing overtime, where it beat USF. Cincinnati rallied with drives of 77, 81 and 70 yards in the fourth quarter. Miami and West Virginia worked down the field and positioned themselves for final-play, walk-off field goals. New USF defensive coordinator Chris Cosh, who has arrived from Kansas State, aims to stop that heartbreaking trend. "It's all about team, about being unselfish and being accountable,'' said Cosh, who replaces Mark Snyder, now at Texas A&M. "It's about stepping up when you need to step up.'' Ordinarily, a new defensive coordinator installs his system and players must fall in line. But at USF, it's Cosh who is learning the holdover system, which he will tweak slightly. "I told him one thing has changed on our defense,'' USF coach Skip Holtz said. "I don't want to have 50 guys learn an entire new defense. I'd rather ask one guy come in and learn how we do things. "Chris is on board. It's great to get feedback (from USF's defensive players) on how smooth the transition is. DeDe Lattimore (linebacker) said to me, 'He holds us accountable … wow!' '' Moving on Former USF football OL David "Boo'' Simon, who left the program last month after being hospitalized for seizures, told the Mobile Press-Register that he was diagnosed with epilepsy. He said he began experiencing "mini-seizures'' last summer, but never alerted the medical staff at USF, believing he could "tough it out.'' Simon, who was a redshirt last season, said he's done with football. "I think my life, my brain is more important down the road than football,'' said Simon, who praised USF coaches and staff for their ongoing concern. He probably will enroll at the University of Alabama in the fall. Bull bits Heading into Wednesday night's game at Florida, sophomore softball pitcher Sara Nevins led the nation in ERA (0.55). … Football player Lindsey Lamar (Hillsborough), a 5-foot-9, 164-pound rising senior, has moved from receiver to running back, where there figures to be opportunities after Darrell Scott's early departure for the NFL draft. Lamar, who won the 60-meter dash at the recent Big East Indoor Track and Field Championships, has accounted for 2,449 all-purpose yards in his first three seasons. … Football recruit LaMarlin Wiggins, a WR from Plant City, will not qualify academically and plans to attend East Mississippi Community College. He could resurface at USF in 2014. … USF men's basketball signee JaVontae Hawkins, a 6-foot-5 guard from Huntington (W.Va.) Prep and native of Flint, Mich., will compete in Friday night's American Family Insurance High School Slam Dunk Championship, held in conjunction with the Final Four in New Orleans.

jjohnston@tampatrib.com (813) 259-7353 Twitter: JJohnstonTrib
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