TAMPA – Opportunities abound in the University of South Florida’s backfield, mostly because it lost 1,018 of the 1,064 net rushing yards from last season. Marcus Shaw (765 yards) exhausted his eligibility. Willie Davis (139) transferred to Tennessee Tech. Michael Pierre (114) was forced to give up football because of injuries.
Sophomore Darius Tice (141 yards) and redshirt freshman Sta’fon McCray are expected to carry the load, but USF running backs coach Telly Lockette hasn’t ruled out production from true freshmen Marlon Mack and D’Ernest Johnson.
“Right now, we’re just trying to get one guy to be that guy,’’ Lockette said. “I’d like that to happen, but we still got three or four guys competing to be that one guy.
“We’re going to try to start everything with the run game. That’s always key. Following Coach (Willie) Taggart’s history, he always had a back with 1,500 to 1,700 yards. We’re looking for one of the these guys to step into that role, If not, we’ll have to do it by committee.’’
Tice, who had 11 carries for 69 yards at Connecticut as a true freshman, figures to be the most logical candidate to be the primary ball-carrier. But he said depth will be an advantage.
“We’re all pushing each other,’’ Tice said. “One of us will emerge. I feel like a few of us will emerge.’’