TSX Report: USF vs. WKU: Inside Slant

The Sports Xchange gives its inside on USF as the Bulls head into game three against Western Kentucky.

A thin receiver corps keeps getting thinner for USF.

Despite having an extra week to heal because of the bye, the ankle injury to wide receiver Dontavia Bogan is still limiting the senior in practice, and that will impact his availability when the Bulls are host to Western Kentucky.

Bogan was still wearing a boot on his ankle as the Bulls began game week preparations for the Hilltoppers.

"They need to practice on Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday to play," Coach Skip Holtz said when asked about his policy on injured players. "They have to practice on Tuesday or Wednesday to start, and they have to practice on Thursday to play.

"My background and my history on this is when players don't practice all week, they normally don't play well in a game."

A final decision will be made two days before the game, he said.

The potential loss of Bogan throws even more responsibility on a young group of receivers that entered the year without two likely starters in A.J. Love (injured in the spring game) and Sterling Griffin (hurt in the summer).

A freshman walk-on, Stephen Bravo-Brown, will start if Bogan can't play, and sophomore Evan Landi will start on the other side.

Brown has been a pleasant surprise with four catches for 48 yards in USF's two games. Landi is the leading receiver with six for 143 yards.

Holtz is hoping the extra week of work will benefit sophomore T.J. Knowles, and he expects senior Faron Holmes to become more of a contributor.

The game against the Hilltoppers is the first of three at home for the Bulls. They are host to Florida Atlantic on Oct. 2, then begin Big East play at home against Syracuse on Oct. 9.

NOTES, QUOTES

--USF is 12-8 coming off bye weeks in the regular season in its 13-year history.

--USF coach Skip Holtz likes the way the offensive line has performed in the two games, singling out senior C Sampson Genus for his leadership. Other starters are senior LT Jamar Bass, junior LG Jeremiah Warren, junior RT Chaz Hine, and senior LT Jacob Sims. "I think those five guys together are really playing well," Holtz said.

--One thing the bye week has provided USF is a chance to look at the situation at wide receiver. With injuries to veterans, freshmen dominate the two-deep at the three spots. Walk-on freshman Stephen Bravo-Brown has been a pleasant surprise (four catches, 48 yards) and redshirt freshman T.J. Knowles (1-9) could see an expanded role.

--The loss at Florida ended a streak of 3-0 starts for the Bulls, who had won their first three games every year from 2006 through 2009.

SERIES HISTORY: USF leads Western Kentucky 3-2 (last meeting, 2009, 35-13 USF).

SCOUTING THE OFFENSE: USF ran the ball well in the loss at Florida, rushing for 244 yards, but the passing game sputtered. With 130 yards in two games, QB B.J. Daniels once again is the team's leading rusher, which is not something the Bulls wanted this season. Sophomore RB Demetris Murray, however, has shown flashes he may be ready to contribute more. The wide receiver corps remains thin, especially with senior WR Dontavia Bogan nursing an ankle injury.

SCOUTING THE DEFENSE: The defense wore down against Florida, giving up 31 points over the final two quarters, but much of that was the result of turnovers by the offense putting the Bulls in a bad spot. LB DeDe Latimore, who earned praise for his play in the spring, LB Sam Barrington, and DE David Bedford are leading the unit. But the Bulls have only two sacks in two games, one each by SS Jon Lejiste and DT Keith McCaskill.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "This is not a game where we're going to come in and have 10 tackles for loss and five sacks. It's not going to happen with what they do offensively. We've got to continue to harp on and preach on it and teach it, but at the same time I don't think we need to overreact and say it's broke." -- Coach Skip Holtz, noting that his team's total of two sacks isn't likely to increase much with Western Kentucky's emphasis on the running game.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

THIS WEEK'S GAME: Western Kentucky at USF, Sept. 25 -- The Bulls begin a three-game home stretch with the visit from the Hilltoppers, whose 23-game losing streak is the longest active streak in the country. USF has the opportunity to build some momentum coming off the loss at Florida. Next up are home games against Florida Atlantic and Syracuse.

KEYS TO THE GAME: Get the running game going. The Bulls need production out of RBs Demetris Murray and Mo Plancher to take the load off QB B.J. Daniels. The defense needs to get more pressure up front.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:

DE David Bedford -- Bedford has two tackles for losses among his eight tackles in two games, one short of his total for all of last year when he played in 12 games (three starts). He also has an interception to his credit.

QB B.J. Daniels -- Daniels needs to bounce back after an off-game passing in the loss to the Gators. He has completed only 47.6 percent of his passes (20-of-42) with four interceptions.

WR Evan Landi -- After spending time at wide receiver and backup quarterback last year, Landi has become the team's leading receiving with six receptions for 143 yards.

ROSTER REPORT:

--WR Dontavia Bogan (ankle) is questionable for the game against Western Kentucky.

--DE Craig Marshall (knee) and RT Jacob Sims (ankle) missed practice early in the bye week but should return.


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