TAMPA — After playing primarily in the 4-3 defense last season, the University of South Florida football team has changed up its style a bit under defensive coordinator Chuck Bresnahan, who has switched the defensive scheme to the 3-4.
The shift in defensive fronts suits USF’s strength in personnel, as the Bulls feature a slew of young linebackers who can play the hybrid role between outside linebacker and defensive end.
Though the linebacking corps lost freshman Nick Holman to what appears to be a season-ending injury, the Bulls still feature several backers that have stepped up in training camp and expect to make contributions to the defense, including sophomore Auggie Sanchez, Hans Louis, Elkino Watson, Juwuan Brown and Nigel Harris, who made 35 tackles in 2013.
“Since we got here and Coach (Willie) Taggart is a big believer in this is to get the best 11 guys on the field,” Bresnahan said. “We evaluate our skill set. We evaluate our recruiting class and you know getting a good mix of the 3-4 in there gets our athletes on the field and gives us more versatility. The transition has been a work in progress, but I’m anxious to see how we do (Wednesday) in this first scrimmage and carry on from there.”
A couple players who played on the offensive side of the ball in 2013 have made the transition to the defensive side in Sanchez, who played fullback last fall, and cornerback/return specialist Chris Dunkley, who lined up at wide receiver and last played defense in his senior year at Pahokee High School.
Bresnahan believes both have steadily made progress at their respective positions, and freshman Devin Abraham has also shown signs of coming on strong heading into the regular-season opener against West Carolina.
“Dunk is Dunk, and that’s all I can say,” Bresnahan said of Dunkley. “It’s fun to have (Chris Dunkley) over with us. He’s got a ton of confidence, but he backs it up with his play and we’re excited. He’s still a work in progress as well, but he really attacks each day in the meeting room.”
“Devin (Abraham) is a chip off the old man’s block is what he is. Devin is a smart football player. He grew up in a football family and some of the things he does right now at the safety or nickel position just intelligence-wise is way ahead of the game, so we’re trying to take advantage of his knowledge and his instincts.”